Elite Anxiety

Across the page on WatchBlog’s main page is an article by Tiffani Martin, taking issue with conservative complaints of elitism in this election season. It raises interesting questions, and misunderstands the problem.

I was particularly struck by a sentance near the end of the article.

Curiously, a contour of conservative values is self-reliant independence, yet many conservatives demonize education- a fundamental vessel for success in America.
The problem with this statement is that it is what many intellectual liberals really believe. Are conservatives really demonizing education? Or is it possible that they are criticizing people who seem to educate with an eye toward something other than the achievement of the self-reliance the statement acknowledges as our goal?

What if we did in fact want self-reliance in America? What would we educate people to be able to do? Perhaps we would educate them to be able to produce the goods and services the economy needs for the people to provide for their own needs. If we saw an educational system that seemed aimed at educating people to be dependent on social agencies to provide their needs we might be disturbed.

Why, we might wonder, would such a system seem to prevail? It would only make sense in a system that benefitted from a large class of highly dependent people. Who could possibly think such a system a good thing?

It might be instructive to look at the social structure of the Ante-Bellum South. In the plantation-heavy economy of the Old South there were essentially three classes of people. There was a very large class of enslaved laborers with no education and no particular prospects for economic advancement beyond the peculiar institution. As a portion of this class there were also a few skilled and semi-skilled workers whose labors were constrained by their servitude. This group caused dire problems in another class.

The second group was comprised of the vast majority of the free population. They, too, were largely uneducated and unskilled. These people operated at a terrible disadvantage in the economy because the slaveowners had no investment in them and their needs were largely met by the slaves they owned, thus consigning a majority of the free population to a secondary, subsistence, economy.

The third class was a glitteringly well educated, very socially connected class of landed gentry. The order of society was established in the seat of value. This was not land, which in places like Mississippi and Texas might sell for less than twenty cents per acre. It was the capital represented by the slaves themselves. A healthy male with skills could easily sell for eight times the average annual income of a free family.

When the Civil War brought this economic system to a close, surely the social structure was upended. Right?
Wrong.
For all practical purposes slavery continued to exist in the Old South, complete with virtual slavery for blacks and the inability of whites to create an effectively integrated economy well into the 1920s. It was a social institution perpetuated by ignorance, resentment, and dependency. In my own study of education history in Texas there are several instance where education, even of the white majority was described as "a positive disservice" to people who had no industries but farming and logging to aspire to. Such education would only, it was said, make the workers dissatisfied with the available work.

Bingo!

The real problem with educating the ignorant workers of the post-Civil-War South was that doing so would upend the social system so long cherished there. This would threaten the standing of the ELITES, the folk who were educated, whose place in the scheme of things was to be at the head of society.

That is elitism, real, ugly, brutal elitism. Conservatives know this stuff in large part because so many of us live in places where the society was built around it within the limits of our memory. As with the old high collars of 18th century French aristocracy it was an elegance designed to cover the syphilitc sores of grim corruption.

In the Old South the elites were upheld by an illusion, an illusion even the elites believed. They thought they were the best people, the smartest, the best equipped to lead. That prompted them to educate their followers down to their stations in life. The people's dependency reinforced the elites expectation that the people should expect no more. Poor whites resented poor blacks and vice-versa.

I don't know what you people with textbook definitions of "Elite" know about the word. To me it means an institution that makes everyone in society their own worst enemy. It educates people to "their station". It brutalizes people with self-percieved generosity and equanimity. It is a hideously warm and comfortable form of evil.

Attacking intelligence or education? That completely misunderstands what we see. We seek an education designed to make people free. We see something labelled "education" designed to make people into serfs.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at October 24, 2008 9:03 PM
Comments
Comment #268254

What does it mean to be “self-reliant,” and how does education contribute to it? Self-reliance is not merely vocational education. Vocational education as an end would produce a subservient work force incapable of organizing & defending its own interests.

Self-reliance means critical thinking. That is the key element. The old 1960’s saw, ‘question authority,’ is a fundamental basis of critical thinking and true self-reliance.

The entire concept of self-reliance through critical thinking, achieved by questioning authority, is anathema to some conservatives, especially social conservatives, because the concept of education is precisely the opposite. Education for the social conservative is a matter of learning by rote, memorizing facts, accepting a single historical truth, recognizing one true religion, validating one version of culture, insisting upon only one language for that culture, and so on.

For the social conservative, it is a matter of respecting authority and tradition, NOT questioning it. In conservatism, self-reliance means ‘don’t ask questions.’ And pardon the somewhat marxist vocabulary, but elitism becomes a symptom of a conservative, static society, because it is a critical matter to maintain the status quo, respect authority, and uphold tradition; while revolution upends the supposed givens…

Posted by: phx8 at October 24, 2008 10:33 PM
Comment #268255

Lee,

I guess I’m not elitely educated enough to understand this argument. What the &*^%$( are you talking about?

The antebellum South? Teaching dependance?
What curriculum exactly are they teaching up there at Sam Houston? I have absolutely no clue as to what that rant is about.

BTW, Segregation BEGAN to end in the 1960’s not the 1920’s. What relevance is this to elitism as used as a code word for uppity against Barrack Obama? What relevance is this to divisive issues that avoid serious arguments like say Soccer moms vs. our current economic mess? What does this have to do with right wing nuts want to supplant science in schools?

Posted by: googlumpugus at October 24, 2008 10:33 PM
Comment #268256

I’m sure there are strains of anti-intellectualism across political lines. It’s a part of some breeds of populism that equate book learning with looking down on those who don’t have it.

But there is another kind of elitism, one that seeks to muddle things for people regardless of their intellectual capacity.

Republicans have bought fully into the “sound science” movement. That movement, essentially, has been devoted to stalling regulation by casting doubt on anything negative. Is it not elitism for the Republicans to devote efforts to calming people about things they should be concerned about, just so they don’t stop behavior that is economically or politically beneficial to those at the top of the heap?

Republicans embraced a movement that believes that it’s justifiable to panic people into wars to promote a geopolitical strategy, to divert attention from a war people want to win, to one they want folks to fight instead. Isn’t that elitist?

Isn’t it elitist to set up an economic policy that consistently disadvantages the poor and middle class, which expects benefits to the rich to be the engine of growth to those below them?

Worse yet, isn’t it elitist to suppose that the goverment should have the arbitrary right to do just about anything in the name of national security, to presupposed that giving the government more and more power will be good for the country.

If you define elitism as somebody thinking they know better, then everybody’s an elitist. That’s Democracy. If you define elitism as people acting as if they are experts, then what? There are such things as people who know better on subjects, and we shouldn’t be, out of spite, ignoring them.

I define elitism as the belief that the consideration of the consent or personal interests of those one would seek to lead is either unnecessary, or worse yet, a luxury one can’t afford.

By that definition, we’ve lived through one of the most elitist administrations in some time.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 24, 2008 10:37 PM
Comment #268260

I’m too much of an elitist to listen to all this crap…

Posted by: Marysdude at October 24, 2008 11:11 PM
Comment #268262

Beautiful, dude !

Posted by: janedoe at October 24, 2008 11:17 PM
Comment #268264

Well, when a Republican former Secretary of Education who has degrees from Williams and Harvard (including a Law degree and a PhD) slams intellectualism, you know that there’s a deep anti-intellectual strain in the Republican party. No matter how hypocritical it may be.

Posted by: LawnBoy at October 24, 2008 11:49 PM
Comment #268265

“I guess I’m not elitely educated enough to understand this argument. What the &*^%$( are you talking about?
The antebellum South? Teaching dependance?
What curriculum exactly are they teaching up there at Sam Houston? I have absolutely no clue as to what that rant is about.”
If I understand you correctly, you are saying the position the slave owners had over the slaves, or the elite over the uneducated, is the same thing that is taking place today.

The “elite” liberal side of government constantly talks about the education of the low income (code word for those on government subsidy). Has there ever been a democrat that could say “enough” when it comes to taxpayer’s money being dumped into a failed education system. My understanding is the US spends more money per student than any other country and yet our educational system is still in crisis. It is amazing that when the word “private” or “charter” school is mentioned, the left goes ballistic. They don’t want an educational system that works, because the “lower class” of people might actually get an education, and begin to think for themselves.

I might also include: name me an educated, successful black that has not been attacked by the left? The “elite” left of today look at everyone else as in need of their educated leadership.

Phx8:

“What does it mean to be “self-reliant,” and how does education contribute to it? Self-reliance is not merely vocational education. Vocational education as an end would produce a subservient work force incapable of organizing & defending its own interests.”

Hence, along come the union bosses, another class of the “elite”, telling us who to vote for, what to do with our money, dividing the employee from the employer by calling them the enemy.

This might be an example of elitism:
“Isn’t it elitist to set up an economic policy that consistently disadvantages the poor and middle class, which expects benefits to the rich to be the engine of growth to those below them?”
An “elitist” is a person who tries to divide a nation by pitting one group of people against another; rich and poor, educated and uneducated, white and black, those who have and those who have not, employers and employees. An “elitist” is one who always sees the cup half empty; who never sees success and only sees gloom. Who never, never believes in self-esteem or sees their nation as one blessed by God. An elitist is one, who believes American’s are too free and too successful: what about the rest of the world? An “elitist” is a person who does not understand or care what the words self-reliant or responsibility mean. An “elitist” like Madeline Albright who thought is wasn’t right for “America be the only superpower”. An “elitist” is an American who stands before a hundred thousand people in Europe and apologizes for America’s success.

Posted by: Oldguy at October 24, 2008 11:51 PM
Comment #268266

All the talk about elitism is ultimately meant to defend Palin, and attack Obama…

One of McCain’s advisors resigned his position with the campaign and endorsed Obama! Too funny. Chief among his reasons “is the choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis.”

Posted by: phx8 at October 24, 2008 11:54 PM
Comment #268267

Democracy itself is inherently “anti-elitist,” and has its intellectual roots in the value placed during the Enlightenment on questioning established authorities. And the anti-elitist strain in American politics goes back to our founding, when Americans rejected domination by the European elites.

The populist strain in our politics has been with us for a very long time, and it isn’t confined to one political movement or philosophy. Far from. Presidents as different as Andrew Jackson, and that old rail-splitter Abraham Lincoln, have all appealed to the public based on their common-folks popular appeal.

In this election, we see Democrats railing against the rich while the Republicans try to make hay out of “Joe the Plumber.” It’s all par for the course.

When it comes to education, the Republican issue is not really with “book learnin’” as some put it. It’s with the politicization of the educational establishment. The system churns out huge numbers of students who can’t do basic math and are functionally illiterate but who are nonetheless indoctrinated into the values of “self-esteem” and “multi-culturalism.”

I define elitism as the belief that the consideration of the consent or personal interests of those one would seek to lead is either unnecessary, or worse yet, a luxury one can’t afford.

Sounds like a pretty good argument for school choice and private school vouchers. Parents are forced to send their students to crappy schools whether they consent to or not, and the elites consistently maintain that parents and students shouldn’t be allowed to make these decisions themselves.

Posted by: Loyal Oppostion at October 24, 2008 11:55 PM
Comment #268270
Isn’t it elitist to set up an economic policy that consistently disadvantages the poor and middle class, which expects benefits to the rich to be the engine of growth to those below them?

This quote encapsulates as perfectly as anything could the difference between conservative and liberal ideas about “elitism.”

If you believe that there are two static groups called “the rich” and “the poor,” and that “the poor” are helplessly unable to better themselves on their own without massive intervention on your part, then you are making the most elitist assumption possible to make. The elitist assumption is both about yourself and about them.

The liberal view is that liberals have the ability to improve the situation of the poor instead of make it worse through meddling, and that in their superior wisdom, they can do for the poor the things that the poor lack the ability to do for themselves. What can be more elitist than that?

The conservative view is one that actually has a lot more respect for the poor. It holds that they needn’t STAY poor and that the best thing you can do for them is to create the conditions under which they can rise from that state. This is an anti-elitist viewpoint. It doesn’t hold that the poor are necessarily inept, stupid, and very nearly subhuman in comparison to those who want to create a nanny-state to hold their hands and give them the things which talent, enterprise, and determination would allow them to get for themselves. The conservative view is really one that believes in the dignity and worth of human beings.

Posted by: Loyal Oppostion at October 25, 2008 12:24 AM
Comment #268271

phx8,

Listen to your own words, then go into any “level” classrom in America as opposed to the classes where the bright kids go, the ones being groomed for the best colleges, and see the apallingly low level of accomplishment expected of ordinary kids. Pretend to yourself these kids are being prepared to think critically, to dissect an argument, to analyse the elements of logic in a series of statements. It is complete nonsense!

I’ve read a great deal about the furious debates between W.E.B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington. Samuel Walker Houston built his school here in Walker County insisting on the freedom won, first, of not being enslaved to menial labor so that people could take advantage of having been taught critical thinking skills.

You want to see disdain? You don’t avoid it by being the smartest person in the room. You avoid it by not being dependent on the cretins who have you by the handout. Some years ago I had the unfortunate experience of having to seek mental health services from the State of Texas. It could hardly have been more demeaning if I had been stripped naked and hosed down in the street.

The key to freedom is the capacity to market one’s services profitably. Economic freedom is the freedom that makes intellectual freedom possible. If a people feel dependent on an elite they will not be able to critically examine the manner in which that elite deals with them. That, in a nutshell, is the process by which predatory elites are made.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at October 25, 2008 12:48 AM
Comment #268274

Lee & LO,
I taught high school English and History. At one point I taught freshman in a pretty rough environment, and at another point, I taught in a fairly affluent school. In addition, I substituted in schools in three different states over a period of about three years, and I have to say, I don’t understand why, but Lee, you seem to have a shockingly low opinion of young people.

Obviously, not everyone gets to be a rocket scientist. It’s all about every getting an equal opportunity, not about everyone getting the same result.

Public schools are critical to an egalitarian society. Private schools are almost by definition elitist. A free country must make public education available, which means everyone antes up. However, after having paid taxes to support the opportunity of public education, people certainly have the option of home schooling or private schools.

“The conservative view is really one that believes in the dignity and worth of human beings.”

LO, you say this, yet you seem to consider social services such as universal health care as manifestations of a nanny state. Obviously it is not government’s place to take care of everyone to the extent of being some sort nanny, whatever that means. It is government’s place to “provide for the general welfare,” and ensure certain basics are covered. There is no reason an American should starve, lack shelter from the elements, or suffer for want of medical care.

“Economic freedom is the freedom that makes intellectual freedom possible.”

Interesting statement. It could be flipped around- “intellectual freedom makes economic freedom possible”- and still be true…

Posted by: phx8 at October 25, 2008 1:33 AM
Comment #268280

Lee,

I have said this before. I attended private schools through grade school and part of high school in the ’50s, and ’60s. My parents both worked to provide my brother, 2 sisters and I with this education.
While I don’t have a problem with providing “scholarship” money to send worthy children to private schools I do have a problem with school vouchers.
We cannot force children to learn. If parents do not begin to imbue in their children a sense of intellectual curiosity at an early age, no amount of private school education will turn them around when they reach their teens.

You cite the Antebellum South as an example, and set up three classes of folks.

1) The uneducated slave.
These folks were kept uneducated because it made them easier to control.
Even though you set up a skilled sub-set within this group you fail to mention that the sub-set gained their skills because they were intellectually curious.

2)The vast majority of the “free” population, also largely uneducated.
There was no true necessity for a higher education in the agriculturally based Antebellum South of the time. Technology was something of the future, not of the time.

3)The “Elite”.
Who without the labor of the “uneducated” slaves actually had nothing but their education.
What did they do that actually added worth to this country?
Land, like an education, is worthless unless you can do something with it.

I guess my point is that for the last eight years this country has suffered under the leadership of an intellectually un-curious dolt.

After all what good is having an MBA if you don’t have any interest in using the skills that should have come along with it?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at October 25, 2008 9:53 AM
Comment #268281

Let’s address the amount of taxpayer’s money being dumped into the public education system and yet it never solves the problem and is never enough. There is an old saying, “a boat is a hole in the water that can never be filled with money”. We spend more on education, per student, than any other country, with negative results, and yet politicians still call for more. Why is that?

I consider the teacher’s union to be equally part of the problem. The unions protect teachers who should have another line of work. The “elites” love to involve themselves in education for two reasons:

1. They believe, because of their higher learning, they are the only ones qualified to teach the masses.

2. The classroom is the platform through which they can teach their anti-establishment doctrine and it allows them the right to do it without debate. Meaning the student listens but is not allowed to respond. If he does, the teacher uses the rest of the class as a means of intimidation. Hence, freethinking is NOT allowed.

This is why traitors like “Ayers” are able to spread their doctrine in universities. The more anti-American, the more popular the professor or teacher. This is why the “elite” left looks down on anyone with an education outside of the left Ivy League colleges. In order to be politically correct, and part of the inner circle, you must have been trained in the most liberal schools. Sarah Palin is a bumpkin; McCain is ignorant, because their college did not meet the requirements. Even President Bush, although an Ivy League graduate, is considered a bumpkin because he would “dare to think outside the liberal establishment”. As a result, he is also attacked.

I once heard the definition of a college professor as it pertains to evolution. When sea creatures grew legs and crawled on to dry land, they then climbed into the trees and grew tails and swung from one branch to another, eventually swinging from the tree across the street and entered into colleges and began teaching.

Again I ask, name me a successful conservative black in modern times, who has not been attacked by the left?

The height of hypocrisy is when ACORN sent low-income recruits out to do their bidding, and when they were caught with fraudulent registrations, the “elite” leaders of ACORN blamed the fiasco on the ignorance of their workers.


Posted by: Oldguy at October 25, 2008 9:58 AM
Comment #268282

Oldguy-

An “elitist” is a person who tries to divide a nation by pitting one group of people against another; rich and poor, educated and uneducated, white and black, those who have and those who have not, employers and employees.

No, that’s a demagogue.

An “elitist” is one who always sees the cup half empty; who never sees success and only sees gloom.

No, that’s a pessimist.

Who never, never believes in self-esteem
Huh?
Who never, never […]sees their nation as one blessed by God.

Not necessarily. You could have entirely egalitarian reasons for believing your nation’s going to hell in a handbasked. And last time I checked, Atheism didn’t require elitist attitudes.

An elitist is one, who believes American’s are too free and too successful: what about the rest of the world?

I don’t know. Do you have some group of people in mind when you formulate these rules?

Let me tell you what an elitist really is. It’s somebody who thinks that the public has to be misled, not led into doing the right thing. It’s somebody who thinks the voter is too stupid or oblivious to notice when they’re being screwed or being lied to. It’s somebody who thinks they can ride forever on the same scary rhetoric about the other side, no matter what they do.

An elitist is somebody, anybody, whether Democrat or Republican, who thinks that the rich, the intellectual, and the powerful are the source of all or most of what is good in the country. The worst thing about elitism among the Republicans is that they do not see it in themselves. They talk in the market terms of survival of the fittest, mask tax policies aimed at big businesses and big earners in populist rhetoric, and ignore the plight of the average person, even actively make it worse. But they see this state of affairs as the best for the country. It’s so unspoken, so implicit, this notion that investors are the heart of the economy, that the interests of the workers are secondary to that of their companies, that many Republicans don’t even realize that they’ve bought into their own second-class citizenship.

You guys are at war with yourselves, in many ways, and many people are beginning to wake up to how truly conflicted and self-contradictory the GOP is. Quit worrying about Democratic elitists. Start worrying about your own, and what they’re doing to your party.

LO-
Democracy may be anti-elitist, but a Republic is more of a mixed bag. By definition, there will always be a tension between the people who we put in charge, who by definition take up an elite position, and the people they represent. Populism can be a philsophy of governance, but it can also be a style of marketing the candidates. People are smart enough to know that there is a difference. The question is whether they are involved enough to know when that distinction between the behavior of a real man or woman of the people, and the behavior of somebody pretending to that makes itself obvious.

When it comes to education, the Republican issue is not really with “book learnin’” as some put it. It’s with the politicization of the educational establishment. The system churns out huge numbers of students who can’t do basic math and are functionally illiterate but who are nonetheless indoctrinated into the values of “self-esteem” and “multi-culturalism

I think those latter two qualities are going to come about on their own, but the real issue is an education system that has to work against a culture that from either left or right, often devalues book learn, devalues science, and makes every conflict involving technology into a Frankenstein story.

On the subject of school choice, I don’t really think there should be THAT kind of choice. If somebody wants to homeschool their kid, fine. Get the money to pay for tuition somehow, and send their kids there, or find some scholarship. Fine. But essentially subsidize private schools at taxpayer’s expense? Where I a conservative, I might call that socialism! Being a liberal, though, I’d say vouchers amount to the same thing as public school, only taxpayers aren’t getting a voice or a check in what they’re tax dollars are doing. And if they are getting that oversight, that ability to intrude and intervene into the affairs of the private schools, regulations required to get that money, aren’t we taking from the private schools just those qualities that are supposed to make them better than Public schools, the autonomy, the need to compete for paying students?

Don’t vouchers, in the end, create a bastardized, neither fish nor fowl system which has all the problems of both, and few of the advantages?

The public school system provides for taxpayer funded education with taxpayers able to hold those educating their children accountable. The private school system provides accountability through the necessity of competition and credentials; if a school proves rotten, it will go out of business. And the point of private school is often the ability of the school to educate students in a manner that the majority of taxpayers might not agree with. What happens with a private school that accepts public funds, when government regulations start coming attached to the funds they seek out in the market place from the government?

As for elitism between the rich and the poor, I think your rhetoric and your party’s policies part ways You can talk about providing people with the chance to become upwardly mobile, but as the statistics demonstrate, more people have sunk into poverty than risen from it under your party’s governance. If you listen to Obama’s rhetoric, his viewpoint is not far from yours.

Ours, is not far from yours. The thing is, though, we are at peace with the prospect of bringing government in to give people the hand up, rather than the hand-out. In the meantime, though, we also don’t expect that people who are struggling simply to survive will have the strength to spare most of the time to bring themselves up out of that condtion. Our notion is to prevent poverty in this country from becoming not only inescapable for most, but an ever worsening problem.

The excesses of the nanny state can be seen on both sides of the aisle. The only real solution to it is to see government’s role in a new light, beyond the partisan pro and con categories. Good government has to be more important than big or small government. A real liberal craves efficiency and frugality, because an inefficient, impractically expensive government doesn’t do the good for the people that they want the government to do.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2008 10:01 AM
Comment #268283

Tuition for the University of Chicago Lab School where BHO’s daughters attend is $18,492 a year for grades 1-4, $20,286 a year for grades 5-8, and $21,480 a year for grades 9-12. Since half the students are children of faculty, there are not many openings available. The public schools in this area are not very good, although it is a relatively prosperous area, because few of the children of the most prosperous residents attend the local public schools. The nearby public high school that Michelle could have attended in the district where she grew up, South Shore, a fairly good school back then, seems to have been closed or reorganized into different schools. She attended high school about 15 miles away at Whitney Young on the west side, a newer school.

Posted by: ohrealy at October 25, 2008 10:02 AM
Comment #268284

Elitism as a form of anti intellectualism, or populism is the lowest form of politics. This is Maoism, or Nazism rolled into one.

The only actual elitism that exists in America is that of wealth.

To have people who advocate principally for wealthy interests attacking intellectualism is scary. It is manipulation of the masses for the benefit of the adantaged. The cynicism is so deep, that sociopathy comes to mind.

The mythology in this post is so far from reality that it is laughable, and/or disgusting.

I can’t muster more of a response than that. It’s just such a lost idea, that it confounds an answer.

Posted by: googlumpugus at October 25, 2008 10:05 AM
Comment #268285

Rocky Mark

“I guess my point is that for the last eight years this country has suffered under the leadership of an intellectually un-curious dolt.”

Point proven!

“While I don’t have a problem with providing “scholarship” money to send worthy children to private schools I do have a problem with school vouchers.”

The reason you have a problem with vouchers is because it pulls federal money away from the education system and gives the student an alternative to the brainwashing of the public shools.

“We cannot force children to learn. If parents do not begin to imbue in their children a sense of intellectual curiosity at an early age, no amount of private school education will turn them around when they reach their teens.”

Again, enter the liberal democrats, providing a welfare system, whether designed to or not, has totally destroyed the black family. When black mothers and children do not even know who the father is, how do you expect resonsibility in the family?

Posted by: Oldguy at October 25, 2008 10:07 AM
Comment #268290

Oldguy,

As always, you assume too much.

Your attempt to project your faulty logic into my opinion is laughable at best.

“The reason you have a problem with vouchers is because it pulls federal money away from the education system and gives the student an alternative to the brainwashing of the public shools.”

Baloney!
The reason I have a problem with school vouchers is that, as I said, both my parents had to work to put me into those schools.
I had to pass an entrance exam to attend the high school I went to, and I had to maintain a high grade point level to stay there.
In other words I earned my way into high school, it wasn’t just given to me.
Private schools have academic standards that public schools can’t have, and allowing any child that isn’t truly interested in learning would dilute those standards.
Do we lower the education standards so that everybody can go?
Class sizes are also generally smaller at private schools. Larger classes means less education for every student.
Again, what is the point if the child’s education suffers?

I am all for scholarships for scholastically worthy children.
Vouchers are merely an attempt to siphon money away from public school systems that have been falling apart for years due to neglect. Peeling paint and broken windows are not conducive to an education, and continuing to build nice new schools in the suburbs doesn’t help the average inner city kid.

“Again, enter the liberal democrats, providing a welfare system, whether designed to or not, has totally destroyed the black family. When black mothers and children do not even know who the father is, how do you expect resonsibility in the family?”

Even if I was a liberal Democrat, which I’m not, I don’t know if I could bring myself to justify such an insulting question with an answer.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at October 25, 2008 10:52 AM
Comment #268299


The backbone of civilization has always been the slave and the slave wage worker.

Suppression of wages is still a key factor of elitism. Both conservatives and liberal elitists believe in perpetuating this class based society.

It is the reason why we send manufacturing jobs to China and bring in low wage workers from Mexico and other countries. It is claimed that this is necessary because of competition. If this is so, why are many upper income white collar workers protected from the same kinds of competitive pressures?

Today, it is possible to recruit many english speaking, highly skilled, highly educated workers and managers from other countries but, we have laws that restrict the numbers of these kinds of immigrants. That’s elitism.

While there are rags to riches and riches to rags examples, the odds are that the class you are born into is the class you will remain in all your life, unless, of course, you are lower middle class blue collar.

Regardless of 401K’s, corporations are the current manifestation of elitism.

If or when we evolve and create a classless society and eliminate poverty, elitism will have it’s proper place in that society.

When we know the names of our forefathers who froze there rears off at Valley Forge and other camps and who were boiling their boots for food, we will be headed in the right direction. Without them, the forefathers who’s names we no so well, whould have been hung by the neck until they were dead and the documents that we cherish would be ashes.

Posted by: jlw at October 25, 2008 12:01 PM
Comment #268300

Many private schools are exceptional learning institutions. That said, several are also assembly lines where wealthy folks send their cast-away children to be housed until they get too old to defend keeping them there. They pass through the system because the school loses big bucks if they don’t baby-sit the little buggers. Tax payer monies might be saved if all vouchers went to the good private schools, but wasted if the vouchers went to the poor ones. The problem is, with government monies at their disposal, the good schools would likely turn bad, and the bad ones would likely turn worse. Let’s try to improve what we’ve got.

You will notice that this atheist did not say even one derogatory word about parochial schools…I gritted my teeth, but held it in…maybe…why in the world would any sane human being want to send their children to a place that is based on fairy tales…nope, I couldn’t hold it back…

Posted by: Marysdude at October 25, 2008 12:04 PM
Comment #268301

Rocky:

“The reason I have a problem with school vouchers is that, as I said, both my parents had to work to put me into those schools.
I had to pass an entrance exam to attend the high school I went to, and I had to maintain a high grade point level to stay there.
In other words I earned my way into high school, it wasn’t just given to me.
Private schools have academic standards that public schools can’t have, and allowing any child that isn’t truly interested in learning would dilute those standards.”

So, what you’re saying is that it’s ok for you to not attend a public school, but everyone else has too. Maybe this is why congress members send their kids to private schools. Let’s see, your parents paid for the schooling (not the government), you had to meet certain scholastic standards (which, according to the left, the low-income are not able to do), and you earned your own way because it wasn’t just given to you (but the goal of the left is to be mommy and daddy to the low-income). And it is the left who determines who is interested in learning and the low-income would dilute the standards of higher education. Is this statement the height of “elitism”? Do you see a problem with these statements? I do!

The left and inner city school administrators have been lowering these standards for years, in order to pass students who can’t even read. I believe the left calls it affirmative action. Surprise, democrats passed these rules years ago in the workplace. Thanks to the left, we have people who were hired by lowering qualifications, and that’s a fact. Been there.

I said, “The reason you have a problem with vouchers is because it pulls federal money away from the education system”

And you said,
“Vouchers are merely an attempt to siphon money away from public school systems that have been falling apart for years due to neglect. Peeling paint and broken windows are not conducive to an education, and continuing to build nice new schools in the suburbs doesn’t help the average inner city kid.”

How much money does it take to run a school system? Inner city schools get more money than suburban schools, and yet the inner city schools have all the problems, go figure. Now your going to say, all those rich people in the suburbs pay school taxes through real-estate and I will say the cities are run by democrats who have managed to run every big business out of town, because big business is the enemy. I am seeing this happen as I speak, in the nearest city to where I live. Businesses are pulling out because of the rules and regulations placed on them.

You know, you may find the truth insulting, but it’s still the truth. Tell me, why is every other ethnic group that enters into America been able to partake of the American dream, but African-Americans, even though they have been here longer, just can’t seem to make it without government help? I realize I am talking about them as a whole. Some have succeeded and they are the ones the left attacks because they have become “upity” and should have stayed were they were. I bet you can name a lot of successful black liberals, of course they are part of the problem.

Back to the point of the post, the “elite” left has the blacks right where they want them. Hammered down and dependent upon the democrats. The left does not care about the blacks; they only care about the vote and keeping them in their place.

Posted by: Oldguy at October 25, 2008 12:07 PM
Comment #268302

>When we know the names of our forefathers who froze there rears off at Valley Forge and other camps and who were boiling their boots for food, we will be headed in the right direction. Without them, the forefathers who’s names we no so well, whould have been hung by the neck until they were dead and the documents that we cherish would be ashes.
Posted by: jlw at October 25, 2008 12:01 PM

One of them was named, Sabastian Merscheimer, one my forefathers…he did survive and in 1784 was granted a small parcel of land in what is now Indiana, as a bonus plus three dollars a month for a pension. When I joined the Marine Corps in 1958, I got sixty-eight dollars per month active duty pay. See what happens to inflation in just under two hundred years?

Posted by: Marysdude at October 25, 2008 12:16 PM
Comment #268324

Wealthy Democrats, and virtually all leading Democratic politicians, have one thing in common.
They send their kids to private schools.

In the meantime, because they just “know better” than everyone else—or could it be the campaign contributions from teachers’ unions?—they deny others the same choice that they have.

Public schools spend about $8500 per student on average across the US, and the size of most vouchers where the system is implemented is always less than that. In Milwaukee, for example, the maximum voucher is $6500, with most getting less, and a lot of the proposals out there are in the 4-5 thousand dollar range.

Even with the maximum award given to a student who leaves the system, a public school would still have several thousand dollars left over for each student who was no longer even there!

What’s ironic about all this is that vouchers would not only give students and parents more choice—they would arguably improve public schools.

Public schools would have decreased enrollment, allowing smaller class sizes, AND would result in MORE money available per public school student than we have in our current system.

Posted by: Loyal Oppostion at October 25, 2008 3:07 PM
Comment #268342

LO,

“Wealthy Democrats, and virtually all leading Democratic politicians, have one thing in common.
They send their kids to private schools.”

We were not wealthy. My mother knew 100’s of ways to cook hamburger, and she often sent me to school with a PB&J with a frozen Tupperware container that was 50/50 powdered milk and water/whole milk.
Oh, and my stepfather was a staunch Republican that thought McCarthy was a hero.

oldguy,

“Inner city schools get more money than suburban schools, and yet the inner city schools have all the problems, go figure.”

Give us a link so we can all be educated.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at October 25, 2008 5:01 PM
Comment #268347

ohrealy-
Look, I have no problem with those who can afford it seeking out a premium education for their children. That’s not my point.

Oldguy-
Brainwashing? Trust me, most public education is rather sedate, and the material kids learn in classes relatively uncontroversial. That’s the result of taxpayer oversight of taxpayer funded schools. You want something that is taxpayer funded, but not so much under taxpayer control.

The question is, who’s motivated here to do better? The schools will grow fat and lazy on their federal funds. The Parents, if they were were lazy and inattentive before, won’t likely change. The kids, for the most part won’t change either. Those driven to educate themselves best will succeed on their own terms.

The only people this will generally benefit are sectarians looking to use taxpayer dollars to fund a sectarian education for their children. It’s their way of having the choice of a private school, free of those annoying restrictions and making the rest of us, who don’t buy their doctrines or cultural values, pay to inculcate them with those values.

I have no problem with people sending their kids to private school if they can afford it. Nor do I have a problem with a parent who knows what they’re doing homeschooling their child,

I do have a problem with inefficient inner city school systems, but don’t think that removing money from the public school system is any more the solution than putting more good money after bad in there is. As for any insistence that we want to keep blacks beaten down (ooh, electing African Americans, what a hardship to make them endure), I think you’re speaking for your misguided notion of what Democrats are about. We’ll be quite happy to speak for ourselves, thank you very much.

LO-
The politicians cannot give voters the same choice their children have. That would be a choice that would involve the use of their own money to fund their children’s private school education. You talk about choice, but this is choice subsidized, not made on their own with their own resources, in the market.

The Market’s scarcity is what makes competitors double down and do their best. What would happen if all of a sudden, tons of free federal money came the private school’s way, courtesy of the federal government?

Vouchers are about a distinction between public and private that makes no distinction between scarce folks who can pay the tuition and the economies of scale-gifted governments which can flood the market and make those Private school managers easy money.

If you truly believe that private schools excel because of competition, why would you want thousands of students coming into these schools and eliminate those school’s motivation to attract those willing to pay the premium by their excellence?

I think it’s absurd to run a public school like a business. It should be run as the taxpayer funded outfit that it is, and held accountable in such a fashion. So too should private schools be held to their accountability, by the necessity of competing for scarce tuition dollars.

Americans should also not be forced to subsidized the sectarian education of those who hold the rest of us in contempt. In their secularity, today’s public schools turn nobody away, and that should be the point. Not everybody takes advantage of the benefits of that education, but that’s their problem and no system can solve their own lack of motivation.

Additionally, don’t people spending their own money on education have greater motivation to look after their interests than those who are just handed a check from the government to spend anywhere they care to spend it?

Public School systems are not about choice, but opportunity, opportunity afforded you merely for being a citizen. The good it does is immeasureable. Where school must be paid for out of pocket, we see backwardness and poverty. We are rich nation, in many ways, because we believe we can afford to educate each and every child. Whether they reach for better things is their responsiblity.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2008 8:05 PM
Comment #268349

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/stossel/story?id=1500338

Posted by: OldGuy at October 25, 2008 8:37 PM
Comment #268350

@LEJ: “To me it (elite) means an institution that makes everyone in society their own worst enemy.”

Then you’re like Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s classic “Alice in Wonderland” who says “‘When I use a word,’ (he) said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’”

The word elite means nothing of the sort.

Nevertheless, practically everything you wrote in your original post may be what you believe the conservative and/or Republican agenda is, but it is in fact just the opposite of what they really practice, exemplified by the anti-elite Bush/Cheney administration. Every one of the major players from Rumsfeld to Wolfowitz to the chimpster himself are nothing if not mediocre. Don’t forget about “Heckuva job, Brownie”.

I guess this is what one must expect to hear from supporters of McCain/Palin since they are now reduced to arguing that Obama/Biden are somehow more like Bush/Cheney than McCain/Palin: If you believe it’s true and say it enough times, it’s true.

Posted by: EJN at October 25, 2008 8:57 PM
Comment #268352

oldguy-
John Stossel, for all his fame and fortune as a TV News commodity is well known for being opinionated and offering an opinion.

Opinions are like the reverse side of the digestive system from the mouth. Everybody’s got one. Do we trust somebody because they have a voice in the media? Well then we get into matters of taste.

The truth is, most public schools do fine. At best some of the testing reforms seem to have just tied teacher’s hands, the curricular equivalent of the funky rules of engagement they forced on pilots in Vietnam.

Stossel says “competition”. But competition towards what? It kind of feels funky to me. Schools are not supposed to be allowed to fail. We’re not measuring some kind of profit here. We’re trying to acheive something here. Doesn’t cutting funding to failing schools just make things worse?

Maybe the real solutions to our educational problems lie in stopping this one-size fits all approach to improving America’s educational system. Stop treating it as if its some problem that can be solved scientifically. You can’t essentialize motivation, and people like me (who enjoy taking tests) are rare. Teach to the test, make that the gold standard of what competition is, and you encourage nothing in terms of student motivation, and much in terms of administrative corruption. Who’s going to let their school look like it’s failing?

What you need is a focus on education beyond the easily reduceable. You might be doing a favor to the kids. Focusing on building to upper-level comprehension, rather than depending on repetitive structure. Don’t socially promote, but be looking for ways to get people back on track. Don’t focus on self-esteem, focus on what underlies it: a genuine sense of achievement.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 25, 2008 10:27 PM
Comment #268354
If you truly believe that private schools excel because of competition, why would you want thousands of students coming into these schools and eliminate those school’s motivation to attract those willing to pay the premium by their excellence?

Huh? With vouchers, ALL of the students coming into a private school will still be paying the premiums. The only difference is that money will be coming from the funds that would otherwise be spent on that student in a public school—instead of from their rich daddy’s bank account. Sometimes the vouchers might not cover the entire tuition—but in that case, the parents will either decide to make up the difference or keep their children in the public system.

If these private schools decrease in quality when new students arrive, then students will abandon those schools just like they did the public ones. They may go to other private schools, or if the public school in the area is good or is seen to be improving, return there. Under this system, ALL of the schools, public and private, have a clear motivation to maintain and improve quality.

There’s no requirement for a private school to admit everybody who applies either, so there’s no danger of them getting swamped with thousands of students. Undoubtedly, new schools would open to fill the demand in many areas.

And undoubtedly there would still be the VERY elite private schools which many parents wouldn’t be able to afford even with vouchers. And if they so choose, such schools wouldn’t even be required to accept vouchers.

Posted by: Loyal Oppostion at October 25, 2008 11:28 PM
Comment #268364

I personally think it has more to do with parenting. Look at other countries and what they do differently. A lot of other countries their parents can spend more time with them.

Oldguy, where in that article does is say schools brainwash people? Where does it say all public schools teach liberal ideas? I might agree with some of the parents and teachers in the article seeming that way. But if that is the only case then you make a false arguement on your own words and need to back them up.

Anyways, I don’t like teacher unions, they can serve some good, but usually don’t do much. Throwing money around really won’t do anything. If you really want good schools, force every parent to start paying for it in real money, instead of taxes. Of course then you will start hearing about little kids sore bottoms again for not doing well in school.

Posted by: kudos at October 26, 2008 2:13 AM
Comment #268369

The problems of the public educational system have less to do with the system per se and more to do with the demographics of the individual school districts. The mass exodus of the middle and upper middle classes from the cities over the past 30 years has had understandable and predictable results on the academic performance of urban school districts. Is this a surprise?

Additional resources, improved standards, charter schools, vouchers, etc. may have some marginal impact but they fail to fully address the enclave nature of our current society. No politician wishes to address this issue openly but it is at the very core of the problem.

Posted by: Rich at October 26, 2008 8:30 AM
Comment #268370

oldguy,

So where exactly in your link does it talk about how inner city schools spend more money than their counterparts in the suburbs?


“So, what you’re saying is that it’s ok for you to not attend a public school, but everyone else has too.”

What part of “both my parents worked to send me to a private school” don’t you understand?

What part of “I had to pass an entrance exam and maintain a high grade average to stay in that private school” don’t you understand?

What part of “scholarship” don’t you understand?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at October 26, 2008 8:52 AM
Comment #268381

Since we got on the issue of schools. Having worked at a public school district as a janitor at night to help pay for my college education, since my GI Bill wouldn’t pay for everything I needed I had to take a job. Part of the problem with public schools (from my experience in Oregon) is that you have to have a MASTERS degree to teach. Guess what the starting wage is? You got it a whopping $30- 35 thousand. Who wants to get into teaching with those wonderful rewards, a teacher with long experience and head of a department makes $60-80 a year including pay for coaching so they have a little more money. Now why would you want to get into teaching with these wonderful rewards?
Having to deal with parents who are upset that you tell them their little Suzie or Sam is a jerk and disrupts class and somehow its the teachers fault.
The other problem is that with cutbacks in the schools you have teachers having to teach something they are not specialized in to stay full time. How is it a good idea to have a scientist teach English? Not exactly their strong suit but people doing what they have to in tough times.

Posted by: timesend at October 26, 2008 12:14 PM
Comment #268382

Even in a suburban school system, getting teachers is a problem. I know someone who is a retired gym teacher, and he works consistently as a substitute, following the lesson plan in the classroom.

There is a public school a little west of BHO’s house, set up by the Gates foundation, which hasn’t had very good results yet, in spite of having everything you could want, and 25 private organizations trying to help in many areas, including:

“bring students’ reading up to grade-level through an interactive work book, double class periods of English”

“motivate students to attend school more consistently, arrive to school and class on time,”

“community outreach, community mobilization, public education, clergy partnership, and criminal justice collaboration in their campaign to stop the shooting… Cease Fire focuses on mentorship for male or females who are high risk students, provide cease fire rallies for each grade, and work with specific groups of students to promote a Cease Fire message of anti-violence.”

Posted by: ohrealy at October 26, 2008 12:46 PM
Comment #268416

Here’s the thing about public education that no one in the Rep/Con orbit cares to discuss: While it is true that the public education system is failing some students, for many (in fact most), it is doing an adequate to excellent job; and while there are (as always) many different contributors to failure, the Reps/Cons choose to focus on the school system itself in general and (usually) the unionized labor that provides the human resource in particular.

In the case of my daughters, both of whom test in the 99th percentile on the state standardized tests, take advanced classes and are not discipline problems, the local public school system does a fine job.

Why don’t the Cons/Reps ever point the finger at the real problem which is the parents of the underachieving students? When will anyone ever hold the parents of the underachievers responsible for their parenting failures which result in the school system looking bad? I’m not talking about those students who have physical or mental disabilities preventing them from performing, but rather those who have never been required to behave and to do the work required to learn the subjects?

Instead, the Rep/Con plan is to destroy a system which does a fine job for most students in the futile hope that the ones who are discipline problems or refuse to put forth the effort to learn will somehow magically be able to behave and learn in a private or charter environment.

Ironically, the ones who the school system “fails” are the ones most likely to be kicked out of private or charter schools for behavior problems or for failing to make grades. And, at least in my district, a voucher in the amount which the district spends on each student per year (about $9500) wouldn’t be early enough for the poorer students to afford going to a local private school anyway (about $14,000). The only people vouchers help are the ones who would be going to a private school anyway, and simply helps out the already wealthy.

So net-net, once again, the Rep/Con agenda is to destroy, destroy, destroy and hope the “free market” will intelligently allocate capital to the situation, which anyone with half a brain will recognize as laughable given the current world-wide economic crisis.

If you Reps/Cons are so smart why don’t you figure out a way to fix the problem of bad, neglectful parenting instead of trying to make a buck destroying an admittedly not perfect yet pretty good system of public education?

Posted by: EJN at October 26, 2008 6:13 PM
Comment #268422

LO-
Look, the effect of competition depend on scarcity. Only so many people have the money to pay for tuition. If not enough of those people show up at the doors of a private school, they’ll suffer, perhaps go under.

But what happens when you flood that market with tons of federal dollars? Do you think those folks will look at that money and go, “Oh, just keep it.”? I think it’s fairly naive to think that all but the most prestigious places would be so selective. Money is money, and the more people can afford to go, the less the pressure to go after the premium students.

It boggles my mind that the same people who complain about taxpayer waste with contractors can’t see how the same sort of issues might not come up if the Federal Government dumps boatloads of cash into the private school market.

As for Public schools, the problem with their failure is that it assumes a lack of institutional motivation is the cause. Only then would a drive to goose them on the subject be truly effective. But if the problem is bureacracy, will folks really take care of that, or might those schools become casualties of it? What then is school choice? Private school or nothing?

If that kind of complete failure isn’t allowed, though, what then? It defeats the point, accelerating a drop in quality, as resources are removed. And if Private schools are not required to accept vouchers, then, might we see the elite schools simply keep the riff-raff out? Are children then right back where they started, only with schools depending on private oversight that their taxpayer parents have no stake in?

The problem with the Republican notion of competition is that it’s too vague. If, for example you look at deregulated electrical markets, you’ll see that prices have tended to go up, as the utilities mess around with the energy grid to manipulate prices. Competition becomes more oligarchy than a beneficial playing field of those looking to keep prices low.

The Republicans have become much the ivory tower academics they’ve long accused Democrats of being. You folks push your ideological agenda, but don’t stop to observe the consequences of them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 26, 2008 8:04 PM
Comment #268424

jlw,
“Regardless of 401K’s, corporations are the current manifestation of elitism.”

And the government is a corporation. Well, with one little caveat.

If I don’t like what Chrysler is doing for me (as, indeed, I didn’t) I don’t have to consume or pay for what they keep making. Not so with government. In their case they keep making the same bad product and if I don’t pay men with guns can some and take away my freedom. I know people to whom this has happened.

Bad Chrysler goes away (or at least goes from being worth $36 billion when I bought my bad car to being worth less than $8 billion dollars today). Bad government costs about twice as much over the same period.

There is a significant disparity in my power over the two types of corporate “elitism”.

EJN,

Why don’t the Cons/Reps ever point the finger at the real problem which is the parents of the underachieving students? When will anyone ever hold the parents of the underachievers responsible for their parenting failures which result in the school system looking bad?

I’ll call you on that. I’m in a family in which all the men share a problem with wandering eye. For most of us that causes a truly debilitating dyslexia. Education is, however, a tradition of the family. It is that tradition of education that has made me love history, philosophical and cognitive inquiry, and excell in art, where I make a modest living.

Both of my sons have had terrible trouble with the dyslexia. The elder son could not pass the standard achievement testing Texas required when he was in the second grade. He now is making straight A grades as a college History and English major. He plans to continue to his Ph.D.

The younger son is even more disabled but is as bright and is beginning to get the thrill of being able to access the depth of ages of human knowledge through reading.

This weekend I have been with my younger daughter as she auditioned for extremely competitive positions in the Texas State high school choir. She won a second chair in her district, with region and state competitions yet to go.

None of this is happening because I am rich. It happens because we, as a whole, extended, family cherish education. It also happens because we resist a culture that derides education and it’s benefits.

I went to Bellaire High School in Houston, consistently one of the top 100 high schools in the nation. That is the case because the surrounding community, especially a substantial Jewish contingent, is constantly striving for excellence. When I was a student there the area was not brilliantly prosperous, as was River Oaks or the Memorial area, but in my senior year it was announced to us that Bellaire had had the largest percentage of graduates from the previous year attend college, over 95%, of any high school, public or private, in the U.S.

A culture of EXPECTATION of excellence can take a population of regular kids and make them excellent.

We don’t have that in the United States. Democrats are not helping. (By the way, Bellaire was integrated when I was there.)

Families make a huge difference for kids. Democrat policies have devastated black families. To do this they had to fly in the face of one of their own intellectual bright lights, Daniel Patrick Moynahan, who wrote warnings of the pressures fracturing those families in 1962.

If Liberals really cared a damn for their poorest constituencies they would resist the urge to maintain them in economic bondage, and solve the problem they know, and have known for at least 46 years, is at the core of black poverty- devastated families teaching small children how to be failures.

Elites, though, are not about being or encouraging the best. They are about intimidating the culture into thinking they are the best- and then maintaining the rest of the culture in a condition unable to challenge them for leadership.

That was the point of this article and no one has challenged that point.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at October 26, 2008 8:27 PM
Comment #268425

Stephen,

As for Public schools, the problem with their failure is that it assumes a lack of institutional motivation is the cause. Only then would a drive to goose them on the subject be truly effective. But if the problem is bureacracy, will folks really take care of that, or might those schools become casualties of it? What then is school choice? Private school or nothing?

The problem is neither bureaucracy nor institutional motivation. It is the sense on the part of people who want the best for their kids, but are hemmed in by their financial resources, that they are powerless. This is exactly what Democrats want. They want the constituent to KNOW they have no choice in where their kids go to school. They want the teachers to know the only place they can teach these kids is in the public schools, too. Many of the really dedicated teachers would move to better schools that let them teach even if they knew they would make less money.

In Democrats (though not in many true LIBERAL’S) eyes educational choice has to be a priviledge of wealth and wealth alone. Truly an elitist’s point of view, don’t you think?

Posted by: Lee Jamiso at October 26, 2008 8:42 PM
Comment #268427

timesend,

How is it a good idea to have a scientist teach English? Not exactly their strong suit but people doing what they have to in tough times.
If he’s really a scientist he had better know how to communicate concisely in written language. It is truly a key skill in the sciences. Far better that than the other way around.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at October 26, 2008 8:53 PM
Comment #268430
Look, the effect of competition depend on scarcity. Only so many people have the money to pay for tuition. If not enough of those people show up at the doors of a private school, they’ll suffer, perhaps go under.

That’s right—and vouchers would increase the number of people with the money to pay for private school tuition.

But what happens when you flood that market with tons of federal dollars? Do you think those folks will look at that money and go, “Oh, just keep it.”? I think it’s fairly naive to think that all but the most prestigious places would be so selective.

That is completely illogical, and shows no understanding of how a market—for anything—actually works.

If tour buses started pulling up to Chez Panisse (one of America’s best restaurants, for those of you not in the know), would the waiters set up extra tables in the restaurant and start selling hot-dogs and onion rings instead of the masterfully created cuisine that earned them their reputation simply because they could turn a faster and bigger profit? No. And that’s because the reason people WANT to eat there in the first place is for its top-quality food. If you want to dine there, it might not be easy to get a reservation, and when you show up, you’ve got to be ready to SPEND. If they stopped serving good food, they’d stop being Chez Panisse and eventually lose both their old customers and their new ones.

The same is true of a good private school. As soon as they’re no longer a good private school, people won’t send their kids there anymore. What would happen, actually, is that there would be a demand for MORE good private schools, and more would open to fill that demand. It’s not going to be a matter of shoe-horning thousands of students into only the private schools that already exist.

It boggles my mind that the same people who complain about taxpayer waste with contractors can’t see how the same sort of issues might not come up if the Federal Government dumps boatloads of cash into the private school market.

There is ALREADY a massive amount of waste in the system. You’re saying that we shouldn’t try to do something that might address this waste because it could theoretically lead to waste too. A better idea, however, would be to address the problem of waste in a voucher system WHEN it occurred.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 26, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #268431

LJE: I’ll call you on that.

I’m guessing you missed this part of my post:

I’m not talking about those students who have physical or mental disabilities preventing them from performing, but rather those who have never been required to behave and to do the work required to learn the subjects?

I would include dyslexia as a mental or physical disability, wouldn’t you? If so, I guess I don’t understand what you’re “calling me on”.

LJE: None of this is happening because I am rich. It happens because we, as a whole, extended, family cherish education.

Exactly. The same goes for my family as well, being a son of two teachers and sibling of 4 teachers. But, I don’t see this as elitism at all. Some rich, supposedly elite people value eduction and some poor, supposedly non-elite people value education. Conversely, some rich, supposedly elite people and some poor, supposedly non-elite people DO NOT value education. I don’t understand how valuing education or not is an issue of elitism, whatever you mean by elitism.

LJE: It also happens because we resist a culture that derides education and it’s benefits.

Well, then you are different from the approximately 75% of social conservatives who deride education and its benefits, including being able to make decisions on other bases than faith. In this regard, you adhere more to the liberal agenda than social conservative.

LJE: A culture of EXPECTATION of excellence can take a population of regular kids and make them excellent.

Yes, if it is supported by their parents; not if not supported by their parents. MY point is that it is not a problem of elitism, but rather a problem of individual family culture. YOU are trying to make it into an elitism problem and it is most assuredly not one.

LJE: We don’t have that in the United States.

We do here in my family. We do in many families that I know of, but not everywhere in the US. But it’s not something you can label the entire nation with, any more than you can call my state a red state or blue state.

LJE: Democrats are not helping.

You offer no evidence for this. I call YOU on this.

LJE: (By the way, Bellaire was integrated when I was there.)

What does this have to do with anything?

LJE: Families make a huge difference for kids.

I agree.

LJE: Democrat policies have devastated black families.

So have Republican policies, even more so.

LJE: pressures fracturing those families in 1962

Yes, those policies of 46 years ago were wrong. But they’ve changed and largely no longer exist as they did 46 years ago. I’m guessing the Republican policies of segregation back then were also harmful, would you not agree?

LJE: Elites, though, are not about being or encouraging the best. They are about intimidating the culture into thinking they are the best- and then maintaining the rest of the culture in a condition unable to challenge them for leadership.

I call BS on this, sir. In fact, I don’t even dignify this with the term BS; at best it is urban myth. Who is intimidating whom? How are they intimidating them? You’ve failed to provide or produce any modern-day example or evidence of this supposed elitist intimidation. Your charge is nothing but BS.

Posted by: EJN at October 26, 2008 9:15 PM
Comment #268433
The other problem is that with cutbacks in the schools you have teachers having to teach something they are not specialized in to stay full time.

I’m less worried about that than public school teachers who are incompetent in the areas they’re supposed to teach.

It’s actually illegal in parts of the country to require, for example, an English teacher to demonstrate basic competency in reading and writing.

And why? Because that would be racist.

We’re not talking about IQ tests or any advanced knowledge or skills here, mind you. We’re talking about bare minimum competency in a subject area on the part of those teaching it to our children.

It’s racist, apparently, to require teachers to know how to read and write. After all, our teachers’ unions tell us, salaries, promotions, vacations, and retirement plans are at stake here!

The students be damned—and anyway, it’s probably racist to make them learn to read and write too. I wish I were exaggerating, but this is actually the position the teacher unions have taken time and time again when they negotiate contracts, strike, and go to court. And is it any surprise what political party they support and what party’s candidates they divert part of their union dues to?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 26, 2008 9:37 PM
Comment #268439

“The left does not care about the blacks; they only care about the vote and keeping them in their place.”

OLD GUY,

you are so off base man… I am a social worker and I have never met a republican social worker (nor public school teacher), so that leaves members of the left to care for minorities. Lay off the crack pipe! I wish I didn’t have to do this work, not for some crappy votes. That is the spirit of the true Left.

Posted by: Arrow at October 26, 2008 11:53 PM
Comment #268441
that leaves members of the left to care for minorities.

And there you have it. According to the left-wing view, minorities have to be “cared for” as if they were helpless babies by kindly liberal white folks.

I happen to know several Republican social workers, however, and I have personally done more than my share of volunteer work on behalf of the disadvantaged.

But I still prefer the conservative approach greatly. Start a business and HIRE qualified poor folks and minorities so they don’t have to spend so much time begging favors from liberals.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at October 27, 2008 12:10 AM
Comment #268442

L.O. and Lee -

Not all private schools are what you think they are. When I was growing up in MS in the 70’s the best schools were the academies. The local one was ‘Indianola Academy’, which was part of a sort of ‘academy conference’ when it came to sports - they didn’t play the public schools.

I didn’t see anything greatly unusual in the fact that the academies - including the one I attended in 1975 - were all white. Completely white, in a majority black region. It never occurred to me to question this, even though it was eleven years after the Civil Rights Act.

Going to school there was a microcosm of white Southern redneck-ism. I heard - and said - all the racist jokes and laughed about it, no big deal.

We couldn’t continue to afford the tuition, so the next year I went to a public school, where there were 480 students - maybe twenty of us were white. And I never once heard any racism there with the sole exception of one black student yelling out “Toby be good ni**er!” in English class - this was the day after that particular episode of ‘Roots’.

To make a long story not much longer, I saw far more racism in the all-white school than I did in the segregated school. Indianola Academy finally did accept a black student…in 1984.

So what’s the point? Almost all the private schools in MS were all-white, and the product of something started by Sen. James O. Eastland after he and the other conservatives (Dem and Republican…but ALL conservative) failed to stop passage of the Civil Rights Act. He led the effort to start the academies, and he started something called the ‘Citizens Council’ (or something like that), the sole purpose of which was to keep black-owned businesses from succeeding.

So when it comes to private schools, yes, our public schools have a lot of problems. Personally, I think the tenure system should be scrapped and summer vacations should go the way of the horse-drawn wagon. But private schools aren’t always the best place to send one’s child, either.

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at October 27, 2008 12:27 AM
Comment #268446

Arrow,
If you accuse Old Guy of hitting the crack pipe, then please debunk his original charge of “Show me one black person who made an intellectual and financial success of themselves, that the left has not attacked.”

You also must not get out much if you think that the all social workers and teachers are liberals. What a preposterous notion.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Bill Cosby The left went berserk after him when he dared black people to hold themselves accountable to an actual standard.

The voucher system represents control from the bottom, control by the people. The current monopoly and abysmal failure called no child left behind is what happens when you try to control from the top down. Let parents make the decisions themselves, god forbid they step between what Government deems best for their children and what THEY think is best for their children.

Stephen,
You say the cirriculum in schools is non- controversial? HA! What do you call forcing a class of public school first graders to attend a lesbian wedding? Commonplace? If that doesn’t smack of indoctrination then I don’t know what does, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. You also say that there is recourse for parents? HA again! It’s called tenure and you obviously have no idea whatsoever the challenge it is to get a sex-offending teacher fired, much less a simply bad one.

Our system is broken. It does not do a good job for most and fail only a small politicized few. If that were the case, the national (note the word nation in national) test averages for math and science and reading comprehension and geography would be “Good”. They are not. They are appallingly bad actually. The government (ad council) has a radio ad on the air in my area right now that quotes 1 out of 3 kids in our schools cannot even locate the pacific ocean. Not to mention they think Alaska is some funky island off the coast of California.

Competition breeds excellence. Moderately regulated competition breeds excellence safer and more slowly. Tenure breeds apathy and laziness. Think of it this way, if your body would always look perfect whether or not you exercised, would you exercise? Very few would. Same is true for tenured teachers. If it takes an act of God to cost you your job, then who cares if you say or do whatever you want, try or don’t try, it’s not like anyone can do anything to you.

The real shame is that there are LOTS of great teachers out there who get a bad rap because there are SO many crappy teachers along side them. Isn’t it telling that the EASIEST thing to walk away from a college with is a teaching certificate. Great teachers, who actually WANT to teach, should make as much as doctors in my opinion. And crappy teachers should get a swift kick in the aspirin.

Our system IS broken.

Posted by: Yukon Jake at October 27, 2008 1:04 AM
Comment #268450

For those that don’t know,

Bellaire is a relatively wealthy city inside the Houston area. Multi million dollar homes are common there. Bellaire also has middle class neigborhoods. River Oaks is a very wealthy area of Houston. Lee is comparing pentultimate wealth with above average wealth.

Posted by: googlumpugus at October 27, 2008 2:30 AM
Comment #268455

Lee Jamison-
I would say that there is a strong populist strain in the Democratic politics. If elitism was the aim, helping out the poor and underprivileged would not be what they were doing. For a long time, the party of privilege, of industry, was the Republican Party. They catered to the elites without apology. Republican nowadays aren’t all that different in their policies, they’ve just learned to justify them in different ways and to different people.

I myself have a learning disability, but we didn’t really know what kind until I was in middle school. Without some of the liberal policies helping folks with disabilities, they might have never found it. My particular disability, Aspergers Syndrome, was not a common diagnosis at the time. It was a pretty intensive diagnosis and they wouldn’t have paid for it unless they had to.

We can talk about keeping folks in bondage, but that is not anything like the goal of the Democratic Party. Maybe we backed some policies that had moral hazards to them, but so have the Republicans, as this past few weeks has demonstrated.

Obama seems to me to the kind of person who will openly question the status quo on both sides. He’s set himself up as that in his campaign rhetoric, given himself that room, and folks don’t seem to mind that. Rather than blame one side or another, and fight it out in terms of opposite policies, he’s going to look at the problems anew.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 27, 2008 8:11 AM
Comment #268456

The problem with the Elite is that they must hold onto the facts that Science tells them is right or the Writings of Man is Right. However, knowing that Humans have more Logic and Reason that can be seen and/or understood by both sides, a Layman has been using Common Knowledge and Common Sense for thousands of years to do what has been said by the Elite to be impossible.

For example; Farmers have been planting corps for thousands of years in the Spring and harvesting them in the Fall, but ask the Elite why and depending on which year you speak from a million answers are available to teach your children. And why not all educated answers are complete wrong, not even with 21st century technology can the best minds in the Human Race can tell the Farmer what two seeds from the same plant will do given the same exact environment to grow.

So, before the Left and Right go bashing each other over who is more right in their education system. They might want to learn from the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s and teach their Children and Citizens why it is so important to educate yourself on why the Government and Society of Man have Learned and Unlearned Knowledge and Wisdom.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at October 27, 2008 8:43 AM
Comment #268493

I haven’t written anything in a couple of days for two reasons: first I have been busy, secondly I wanted to see the responses I received from what I had already written.

SD

“Brainwashing? Trust me, most public education is rather sedate, and the material kids learn in classes relatively uncontroversial.”

It is not the material that is the problem. It is the teachers who try to brainwash the students to THEIR way of thinking. One doesn’t have to research far to come to this conclusion.

“oldguy-
John Stossel, for all his fame and fortune as a TV News commodity is well known for being opinionated and offering an opinion.
Opinions are like the reverse side of the digestive system from the mouth. Everybody’s got one. Do we trust somebody because they have a voice in the media? Well then we get into matters of taste.”

So, here we go again, disqualify the writer by using any excuse. When the left posts links to liberal writers it is truth, but when a conservative posts a link to either a right or left wing writer, the writer is disqualified. Such as Card.

Kudos

“Oldguy, where in that article does is say schools brainwash people? Where does it say all public schools teach liberal ideas?”

I did not say this link spoke of “Brainwashing” or Liberal Ideas”, I just posted the link because I thought it was interesting.

Rocky

“So where exactly in your link does it talk about how inner city schools spend more money than their counterparts in the suburbs?”

It doesn’t say anything about spending in this article; I didn’t say it did. The following quotes came the CATO Institute on “Education: Is America Spending Too Much?” If you want to know anymore, you’ll hve to look it up yourself. More money is spent on blacks in inner city schools than money spent on suburbian schools.. Much like SD, you will probably end up attacking the source.

“A related idea—merging nearby school districts into a larger megadistrict—has also been studied extensively. Mergers are supposed to increase equity and efficiency. A typical merger involves an unsuccessful city system that is largely black and a successful county system with mostly white students. Strangely enough, in many cases the city system spends more per student than does the county system. Durham, North Carolina, for example, has a predominantly black city system that spends $3,745 per student and a largely white county system that spends $3,468—but still people are urging merger on the grounds of fairness to city students.(38)
The Washington, D.C., area is a perfect case in point. In 1987 D.C. public schools spent over $5,700 per pupil— compared with the national average of about $4,000.(18) In the same year Maryland spent $4,400 per pupil and Virginia spent $3,800. But are D.C. students that much more educated than their peers in Maryland and Virginia? Quite the contrary: D.C.’s graduation rate was 55 percent, Maryland’s was 75 percent, and Virginia’s was 74 percent (the U.S. average was 71 percent). D.C. students had, on average, lower scores on the SAT and achievement tests as well. There is obviously a better prescription for educational success than government spending.”

Posted by: Oldguy at October 27, 2008 4:37 PM
Comment #268502

oldguy,

I searched the Cato website using “% of education money spent on inner city schools”, and found squat, and from what I found googling the same phrase above, apparently Cato is comparing apples and oranges.

What is the relative expense of life (utilities, transportation, etc..) in the areas surveyed?

I went to a Catholic grade school. I was taught by the Sisters of St Francis (with no lay teachers). In high school I was taught by the Holy Ghost Fathers (with one lay teacher).
To compare the cost to that of a public school is apples and oranges.
Nuns and Priests are a relatively inexpensive staff compared to public school teachers.
The high school had 250 students. The smallest public high school in the city I grew up in had more than 10 times that many students.
Again, apples and oranges.

The article you cite from Cato talks about the ’80s. Here is a link to a “Harper’s” Magazine article,

http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2005/American-Apartheid-Education1sep05.htm

that states that we still have “separate but unequal” schools in the inner cities of this country in 2005.

Here is an article from ‘98 that states just the opposite of what you claim.

http://www.jstor.org/pss/2998809

You see how that works?

I state a fact, and then provide a source that backs that fact.

“If you want to know anymore, you’ll have to look it up yourself.”

I am not going to do your work for you. You want to make outrageous claims, you’re gonna have to back them up yourself.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at October 27, 2008 7:13 PM
Comment #268516

Rocky

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa126.html

More Federal funds are given to inner city schools than suburban schools. When you show the opposite, are you including local funding or are you talking about Federal funds?

I am not arguing the point that inner city schools are in worse condition and tests show lower scores. And I have no idea what you are talking about when you say apples and oranges. In previous posts (in this column) the discussion was why things are so bad at inner city schools, which receive more Federal funding. I already made my points as to why these schools are in this condition.

How much more money has to be thrown at the problem before heads roll and the problem is fixed?

Posted by: Oldguy at October 27, 2008 10:54 PM
Comment #268518

Jonathan Kozol is not what I would call a non-partisan source of information. He is another “elitist” Harvard graduate from MA. With a list of liberal degrees behind his name. What I gave you was from an institute that had researched money spent. This guy is no more than a liberal democrat activist.

Posted by: Oldguy at October 27, 2008 11:06 PM
Comment #268536

oldguy,

What you have given me is an article that is 18 years old that bases much of what it reports on studies that are more than 20 year old.

If you are going to indict an entire race of people as underachievers, is it possible that you could back up your “facts” with something just a bit more current?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at October 28, 2008 8:30 AM
Comment #268547

If inner city, low income, students are not underachievers, then why is this conversation taking place. There are many posts listed above, that tell of the plight of these students.

I do not believe it is a student problem. I believe it is a liberal democratic problem. Again I ask, how much money do we have to through at this problem, with no results. Dems in congress throw the money and dems controlling the innercity schools spend the money. Yet in the suburbs, money is granted and republicans controll the money and the students are successful. Do you see a problem?

It doesn’t matter how old the article is, the results are still the same today.

First you said you looked at CATO and couldn’t find anything and now that I took time to show you, you complain it is 20 years old. Has the government tax and spend policy toward education changed that much in 20 years?

Posted by: Oldguy at October 28, 2008 11:09 AM
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