Judge Memorial Reflections: Learning What’s Not in the Curriculum

I’ve long thought that children are adept at learning what adults teach and most adults aren’t teaching what they think they are.  When adults are intentional about modelling specific behaviors, about identifying what they believe is valuable and then acting on it – to put in other terms, when adults choose to be the change they want to see in the world – the children around them learn those lessons well.

Judge Memorial in Salt Lake City is justifiably proud of itself.  In terms of academics, it has a long and rich tradition of excellence that any school would envy.  But perhaps its most distinctive feature – I say this as a Judge grad – is the way in which Judge taught so many lessons that weren’t on the curriculum.

One year, Judge had a dance at what is now the Joseph Smith Memorial building but then was the Hotel Utah (yeah, I’m forty, so deal with it).  A group of students rented rooms upstairs thinking that the dance got out late, it was winter, roads might be bad, they should sleep there to be safe.  Well, their parents were thinking that.  The students, in the way students always do, managed to come into possession of a large quantify of alcohol and proceeded to have a raucous and somewhat unrestrained party.  Judget was informed we were no longer welcome at the Hotel Utah.

Given the a variety of options, the administration chose perhaps the most interesting.  They called an assembly of all the students, explained what had happened and then said, “Okay, you guys caused the problem.  How are you going to fix it?  Here’s a microphone, come up and speak your piece.”

I honestly don’t recall how many students spoke or exactly what was said (though one of my peer’s comments stands out – she used the time as an opportunity to point out that social cliques were part of the problem; the party at the hotel wasn’t all students, it wasn’t even a majority, it was one very specific clique whose behavior now painted all of us negatively).  For the most part, the faculty and staff sat back and let the student body hash out the situation.

Palmer DePaulis (Salt Lake Mayor from 1985 to 1992) was affiliated with Judge.  The Hotel Utah incident had the potential to reflect negatively on the city’s mayor.  The administration though didn’t berate, didn’t belittle; they laid out the problem and trusted the students to arrive at a solution.

Judge’s leaders at the time spoke frequently about the Judge Community – that it wasn’t just students and faculty, it was parents and alums and prospective students.  The Judge Community taught so much more than was in the classroom. 

One key lesson was the ability to speak dispassionately about many things, including religion.  The religion classes were intelligent, informed, teachers trusted the students to share our opinions, ideas, perspectives without being afraid of what we might say.  With one exception (a lay teacher), the teachers taught the values not the dogma of faith; they imbued their lessons with the perspective that faith isn’t about the words you say but the deeds you do, that to profess to care for the poor but do nothing to care for the poor is a violation of one’s faith.

Judge’s leaders also taught an important lesson about respect.  I still recall the day I realized that the teachers respected the students.  It was a bit of a shock, coming from a public school in which the teachers daily evinced profound disrespect, even dislike, for most of the students, in which the parents regarded the teachers as enemies.  The respect the teachers at Judge felt and demonstrated for the students extended to our parents and vice versa.  Respect – and its sibling trust – were integral to the creation of community.

The lesson of community that they taught was a lesson about mutuality, about caring for one another, about trusting in one another without guarantees about outcomes.  It wasn’t on the curriculum it was in the air.  It was part of the lesson without ever being included on the list of things to be learned.

I realize that perhaps I was at Judge during a unique time, a period in which some mysterious alchemy occurred which maybe hasn’t occurred since then or which happened by accident.  Maybe it was just the right combination of personalities and larger forces but I’m not convinced.  Attitude and behavior teach the real lessons and it requires attention to detail to teach those lessons and the leaders at Judge taught those lessons – respect, trust, community.  And teaching those lessons isn’t accidental or happenstance.

Here endeth the lesson.

,

  1. #1 by Brandy Nagel on January 18, 2010 - 12:28 pm

    Great post, Glen. Not sure if it was alchemy or by design – or a little of both. Judge had great leadership, great staff and a great community.

  2. #2 by Connie Stanfield on January 18, 2010 - 2:26 pm

    Your class was always special.

    • #3 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 9:20 am

      Brandy – Thanks. You and I talked about our Judge experiences in Atlanta and it helped bring some things into focus for me.

      Connie – It’s true, it was a very unique group of personalities.

  3. #4 by brewski on January 18, 2010 - 11:48 pm

    Glenden, I just want to make sure that I have my facts correct.
    You went to a private high school.
    You went to a private college.
    You have no children.
    You are unlikely to have children.
    You oppose the idea that people who do have children (not you) who are poor (not you) should have the choice to attend the private school you attended.
    You think KIllpack is the one with the hyprocisy problem.
    Just checking.

    • #5 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 7:32 am

      brewski,

      I realize you’re hard of understanding so I’ll say this again . . .

      Poor families already have the choice to send their kids to Judge. Judge has financial aid programs for poor students. Poor families already have the choice you seem to think does not exist.

    • #6 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 10:33 am

      brewski –

      I want to approach this conversation a little differently.

      The general argument for vouchers is that public schools are failing students. However, that is not actually backed up by the numbers. From the National Center for Education Statistics:

      Long-term trend data have shown improvements in achievement in a number of areas. The average reading score at age 9 was higher in 2004 than in any previous assessment year. The average score at age 13 was higher in 2004 than in 1971, but not measurably different from the average score in 1999. Between 1999 and 2004, average reading scores at age 17 showed no measurable changes. The average score for 17-year-olds in 2004 was similar to that in 1971. Significant gaps in performance continue to exist between racial/ethnic subgroups. All reading score differences show female students scored higher on average than their male counterparts in 2004. The gender gap at age 9 decreased from 1971 to 2004. In contrast, there has been no measurable change in the score gap at age 13 between 2004 and any previous assessment year. For 17-year-olds, the score gap in 2004 was larger than the gaps in 1988 and 1980, but showed no measurable difference from the gaps in other assessment years.

      Results from the long-term trend NAEP of mathematics achievement indicate a significant improvement at ages 9 and 13 between 1973 and 2004, but not for age 17. At 241, the average score at age 9 was higher in 2004 than in any previous year—up 9 points from 1999 and 22 points from 1973. At age 13, the average score in 2004 was higher than in any other assessment year. The 5-point increase between 1999 and 2004 resulted in an average score in 2004 that was 15 points higher than the average score in 1973. The average score at age 17 was not measurably different from the average score in 1973 or 1999. The apparent difference in average mathematics scores at age 9 between male and female students in 2004 was not statistically significant, while the change in the gender score gap between 1973 and 2004 was statistically significant. Males had higher average scores than females at ages 13 and 17. The gender score gaps for 13- and 17-year-olds were measurably different between 1973 and 2004.

      If the general trends are good, how do you address the schools in which those trends are not occurring? In those schools, what is the nature of problem? Is the problem systemic? Is it bad administration? Poor teachers? Low parental involvement?

      I mentioned that in the school district I left to attend Judge, the parents and teachers regarded one another as enemies in many ways. A great many of the parents placed little or no value on education and that attitude was reflected in the school system. I great benefitted by attending Judge, but the students behind did not. Just so we’re clear on this – attending Judge was a choice, yes but a forced choice; when I was attending, the roads were configured a bit differently than now and we discovered on a good day, if we didn’t hit traffic, we could make it door to door in 50 minutes; traffic or bad weather meant a commute of over an hour each way; when my brother and I participated in extra-curricular activities, it wasn’t unusual for us to get home at 6 or 7 at night. You think we wouldn’t have preferred the five minute drive from our house to the local public school? In that case, then, the problem is a systemic one; local control of the school actually works against the best interest of students. How do we as a society address that problem?

      I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I believe every student should have an experience in school that is positive, transforming, that allows them to discover their skills and talents and develop them. That may mean reconsidering how we run public schools, but there’s nothing inherent to private schools that makes that happen either. In college, many of my peers attended private schools – and hated every minute of it; others loved every minute of it. Many of my peers attended public schools and loved it and thrived; others hated it. It’s not a public private dichotomy.

      So the question I think it boils down to: How do we create an educational experience that benefits the most students? Judge was and is a successful school because of the factors that make any school successful – engaged parents chief among them. The public school I left, the parents were by and large disengaged. They showed up for sporting events to cheer their kids on and so the school had pretty good sports programs. But many were disengaged in the academic side. How do you get parents to be engaged and committed? Kids whose parents don’t value learning have a huge disadvantage. When my parents took me out of public school, the public school didn’t say, “Oh well we better improve or more kids will leave.” They said, “Oh the Browns are just malcontents.” (As an interesting aside, the school principal was convinced the only reason I was changing schools was to play basketball and he was going to refuse to sign some paperwork that would allow me to do that; the idea that all I cared about was the college prep never occurred to him.)

  4. #7 by Cliff Lyon on January 19, 2010 - 8:37 am

    Watching the MLK documentaries, I am reminded that his voter registration drives included poor white Appalachia.

    No doubt poverty is a limiting factor. Nevertheless, skin color is a much larger indicator of poverty, but a lot!

    Enough so that comparing black and white poverty is erroneous at best.

  5. #8 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 10:22 am

    So anyone at all can go to Judge for free? I assume the answer is no, so in fact, there is not equal choice for parents to send their children to the best school for them. If you give me some qualified answer having to do with applying for partial assistance based on some sliding scale of need determined by the adminsitrators of Judge, then already it is not equal access.

    Also, Glenden. there is no such thing as “very unique”. So much for your Judge education.

    Cliff, it seems you totally missed my point, again. I was not comparing white poverty vs black poverty. I have compared over and over again poor illiterate white people with educated affluent non-white people. Which part of that is complicated?

    • #9 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 10:47 am

      If you give me some qualified answer having to do with applying for partial assistance based on some sliding scale of need determined by the adminsitrators of Judge, then already it is not equal access.

      If need based aid is not equal access then vouchers are not the solution.

  6. #10 by James Farmer on January 19, 2010 - 10:39 am

    What I like about brewski’s argument is, once you cut away the chaffe and polish, he is actually arguing for socialism. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The irony is, however, that brew will argue to the day he dies that socialism is bad, bad, bad.

    • #11 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 11:04 am

      James – well of course that’s what the ole brewski is going to do. It would be too easy to be coherent.

  7. #12 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 11:04 am

    Glenden,
    I have never maintained that schools in general are failing. I attended public schools from K-Bachelor’s and in general I got an outstanding education. For example, I learned in the 7th grade there there is no such thing as “very unique”. I also know lots of people who went to private schools and for the most part they don’t seem to have gotten a better education than I. As is obvious, I attribute the good education that I got to my parents. They did all the good things that parents should including sometimes intervening to make sure that I avoided those teachers who had a reputation of being burnouts. That said, my mother still tells stories of some of my “flakey teachers”. Also, I remember that the best teachers were the ones who did not have degrees in Education, but rather had degrees in things like Math, Biology, English, History and actual subjects. IMHO, the Education Establishment should hire teachers with degrees in real subjects and not 4 years of Education.

    I would also hope that every school every where was as good as the schools I attended and as good as Judge. But you know and I know that every school is not as good. Sometimes it is the parents who don’t care. Sometimes it is burnt-out teachers whose main goal is just to pass along kids to the next teacher without rocking any boats until they earn their full pension.

    But as your story demonstrated, when there is a motivated kid and (a) motivated parent(s), and the school district does not allow intra-district or inter-district transfers, or there are no charter schools or the parents can’t afford private schools, then that kid and those parents are trapped. Vouchers are not going to solve all problems in all schools. But they will allow the poorer version of the Brown family, or the Obama family, to send their kid to the school of their choice.

    I have had this conversation with several people and the opponents to vouchers seem to fall into four categories; 1) people who work in the public school district, 2) people without kids, 3) affluent people with kids who have their own choice but are philosophically opposed even though it doesn’t affect them, 4) some combination of the above. None of these groups are very convincing.

    • #13 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 11:45 am

      trust me brewski, if you knew the folks in my class at Judge, you’d agree “very unique” is the only way they can be accurately described – they were unique on steroids. I used to call them eccentric but people too easily and often misunderstood that description.

      Okay so we give the family vouchers and they send their kids off – how does that fix the school for the remaining kids? I don’t ask that flippantly. How many students don’t benefit in that case? The administration writes off the family (or families) taking their kids to other schools as malcontents – and the school doesn’t improve. It’s a systemic problem that vouchers don’t address. There’s also no reason to believe that there are spaces in private schools for the kids – or maybe the kid lives in Blanding and there’s no private schools accessible. The Catholic diocese built Juan Diego because Judge literally could not accept another student – the facilitaties were maxed out. As I understand it, there aren’t open spaces at Juan Diego. Getting a kid into private school isn’t just a matter of showing up one morning and saying, “We’re here to enroll.”

      In my case, as for example, I applied to attend Judge and was waitlisted because there were so many kids applying (for my class, there was some 250 open spaces, they had something like 300 kids waitlisted). The next school year, I heard through the grapevine there was an open space because a student had been expelled wednesday afternoon; thursday morning, my mother and I called, made an appointment for that day at noon, showed up in the office with transcripts and check book in hand; my mother wrote a hot check for my semester’s tuition. Friday morning, I bought my uniform, practiced tying a tie (threw up from nerves several times) and started at Judge on Monday. Want to know something? By all rights, someone else should have gotten my place at Judge. Someone else should have been there instead of me. I managed to see an opening at the right place at the right time and pushed myself into it.

  8. #14 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 11:10 am

    I am with the Socilaists in Sweden on this one:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/3717744.stm

  9. #15 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 12:07 pm

    Actually no. Grammatically, there is still no such thing as very unique.

    By all means, let’s not try to solve part of the problem since it doesn’t solve all of the problem. Isn’t that just like saying we shouldn’t pass your flawed health care non-reform bill since it doesn’t sole all problems? So much for being coherent.

    Again, read the Swedish program and tell me why you think their program is worse than your idea of trapping poor motivated kids in bad schools.

    Also, we live in a dymanic world and not a static one. So the number of private schools and the size of those schools in not some fixed number. It is entirely likely that more Juan Diegos, more Waterfords, more Rowland Halls, will emerge over time when more parents show up with their voucher in hand.

    As for the unmotivated kids with the unmotivated parents in the schools run by unmotivated principals and taught by unmotivated teachers. I suppose the answer for them is standards from top to bottom.

    In the rest of the world outside of the US, there are national exams on subject matter, such as the English A Levels or the Scottish Highers. In the US the closest thing we have is International Baccelaurate and Advanced Placement. The idea is that all students must learn a standard level on various subject matters and for that to be graded by independent graders. The US system of GPA is useless as the standards vary from teacher to teacher, school to school, state to state. Also, national aptitude tests don’t even attempt to measure whether the student learned the subject matter. Once we have a national standard of subject matter, then we can measure, incentivize, reward and punish those who do well, those who don’t, those who improve, and those who fall further behind.

    This will not solve all problems either because there will always be kids, parents, teachers and principals who don’t care. But this system will make it harder for them to just do nothing and expect there to be no consequences.

    • #16 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 1:12 pm

      Okay but you’re not actually solving the problem, you are addressing a symptom of the problem. Vouchers fail as a solution because the problem isn’t one student who could do better who isn’t, it’s a school that is failing all the students in it. From the perspective of the student and his/her family, the problem is that the school is failing them individually but from the perspective of policy making the school is failing all its students. Vouchers don’t and can’t fix schools that aren’t working. Vouchers are an expensive distraction.

      The idea that private schools are going to suddenly spring up and be educationally superior to public schools in response to voucher programs seems like a bit of magical thinking. Even within an existing diocesan educational system, from idea to realization took more than a decade for Juan Diego (it opened in 1999 and I remember discussions of it when I was in high school); that was in response to a highly specific and longstanding need. Judge had been crowded for years before the diocese began working on creating a new high school. It also misreads the reasons privates schools exist; such schools don’t exist because someone said, “Hey we can charge tuition and make money.” Private schools, especially parochial schools, were created in response to a perceived need for a unique educational system separate from the public schools (the first Catholic schools were founded to provide studnets a Catholic education in response to the Protestant education they were receiving public schools). RowMark got its start as an Episcopalian school. The Carden schools were originally Episcopalian. Other schools were Quaker or Baptist or . . . A great many of the crop of “Christian” schools out there were founded when white parents wanted to keep their kids from sitting in class next to black kids. Many of the parents who send their kids to these schools do so for resaons other than academics (i.e. parents who send their kids to schools that teach creationism are clearly not interested in academics). Voucher programs won’t address the reasons people create private schools. Private schools are also not going to suddenly be able to admit lots more students; they lack the infrastructure and the funding processes are radically different. A public school district can far more easily issue bonds than a private school can raise money. Providing vouchers to some students isn’t going to change the structural funding problems facing private schools.

      As far as setting national standards, absolutely. There’s no reason we can’t and shouldn’t expect every student graduating from high school to achive a minimum level of proficiency in a variety of subjects, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect students to learn certain things. That means, among other reforms, changing the ways in which textbooks are chosen – our current system is seriously messed up and allows Texas politics way too much influence.

  10. #17 by James Farmer on January 19, 2010 - 1:09 pm

    brew:

    Your above comment suggests you should NOT be critical of others’ grammar. Whew!

  11. #18 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 1:39 pm

    James,
    Yes I admit my spelling and grammar suffers some when I type. I do not defend mistakes that I make, unlike Glenden.

    Glenden,
    Your argument is evil. Your school wasn’t working for you so you and your parents did the right thing for you and got you into Judge. But you would deny that option for poor people who are disproportionally non-white. Have you no shame? Do you just hate poor people or do you just hate non-white people? Which is it?

    Your logic is about the same logic you deplore with the health care non-reform. The health care bill in question just treats symptoms (people who don’t have insurance) and doesn’t actually solve problems. So by all means let’s just do nothing and accept the status quo. You sound just like some teabagger and you don’t even see it.

    Of course there is no magic and of course it will take time for the forces to take effect. So what? I would rather have better schools in 10 years than worse schools in 10 years. Your arguments make as much sense as the Truthers an Birthers. Why don’t you show up at school board meetings waving a sign saying “let’s make sure things still suck!”.

    Your response also bends over backwards to find reasons why it doesn’t solve all problems and why it won’t work for everyone. Also, all schools don’t need to look like Juan Diego and Judge. The response might me for smaller specialized schools without giant football stadiums and sports facilities that Catholic schools seem to value. Maybe some schools will have environmental, foreign language, technology or other foci and could be quickly set up in existing space. But your response to any idea is to throw up the straw man about how long it takes the diocese to do all the fundraising for their Taj Majal in Draper.

    The truth is you just don’t like the idea of poor non-white people being empowered and threatening your privileged position.

    • #19 by Cliff Lyon on January 19, 2010 - 2:26 pm

      Brewski,

      I see you are taking this to a whole new level. Sounds like you are projecting.

    • #20 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 2:51 pm

      brewski –

      This comes back to the fact that you are hard of understanding. Financial aid is available at Judge and almost every other private school I know about. No one is denying anyone the opportunity to go to private schools. (Matter of fact, the diocese bends over backwards to find ways to help low income students attend parochial schools.)

      Your argument rests on an old fashioned logical failure- the excluded middle. Our choice isn’t – as you seem to think – between having vouchers or having bad schools. You claimed earlier you don’t think the system is broken, but it’s clear from your last comment that you do think the system is broken. We have a lot of public schools that are excelling at their mission. We know what it takes to make successful schools – we have models all over the place.

      At their absolute best, voucher programs have produced mixed results. But they haven’t resulted in improvements to the system. All the money we’ve spent in vouchers could have been used elsewhere to improve public schools. The public school infrastructure is already in place – it doesn’t have to be built or created. We don’t have to pretend that somehow people might go off and start a new school. We have the infrastructure in place to improve public education very quickly, what we lack is the collective will. We have people pretending that we can use vouchers to create some magical transformation of public education . . . by taking money out of the system. Because reducing the resources always works.

      It’s not a straw man argument to point out that starting a school doesn’t happen over night, that it takes time, and planning and resources up front. You could probably attract faculty to a school with no funding and no history but would they really be the faculty you want to create a top-tier school?

      Private schools aren’t the cure all voucher proponents pretend they are. It’s also important to understand that in the real world that vouchers don’t help poor studnets; they help middle and upper middle class students, i.e. the kids already going to private schools. Voucher proponents pretend that private schools are somehow going to magically transform people’s lives. Guess what? If your kid is a drug dealing douche bag in public school, he’s gonna be one in private school too.

      Public schools should be palaces. Teachers should earn six figures. Education is the silver bullet, it is the solution to a host of social problems and pathologies. The state can easily go into a struggling public school and say,”We know you have some great students here. We’re going to create an International Baccalaureate program or a gifted and talented program. We’re going to set the goal to create a program that is the envy of the state.” That’s going to get results almost immediately and get them for a bunch of students. Not just the handful who might get a voucher and get a spot in a private school.

      Here’s the thing brewski: you want to help a handful of students. I want to help them all.

  12. #21 by James Farmer on January 19, 2010 - 2:24 pm

    brew and glendon:

    Here is one individual’s take on “very unique.”

    I think you will both find it rather interesting!

    • #22 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 3:37 pm

      Hey James –

      Yeah, that has essentially been my take on it. But if being the grammar police makes brewski happy, why take it away from him?

  13. #23 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 3:46 pm

    Your actions contradict your words. You love lofty ideas but when the going got tough you bailed. You chose. But you want to deny that choice for other kids.

    You are like Al Gore with his personal carbon footprint of a small town. He believes in reducing carbon emissions. But leave the actual heavy lifting to someone else.

    I guess the Swedes must be a bunch or rightwing nutcases with all of their socialized medicine and all that equality crap…..and vouchers.

    If you want me to I will call Judge, Juan Diego, Waterford and RowMark right now and ask them what I have to do to go there for free. If anyone of them say I can’t go there for free, then by definition there is not equal choice for rich people and poor people.

    By the way, in some place in this country some teachers do make six figure salaries.
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04EED61330F936A25756C0A9639C8B63

    And you almost got it right. Excellent teachers should earn six figure salaries, not all teachers.

    • #24 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 4:09 pm

      brewski – what is the “free” obsession you’ve got? No one is claiming you can go to private school for free. There is financial aid available for poor families. Even your much beloved vouchers won’t get you into private school for free; voucher programs still leave thousands of dollars per year to pay for private school – IIRC, the Utah proposal would still have required a family to pay $5000 per student per year to attend Judge – which of course doesn’t help a poor family at all really. Rich families don’t send their kids to private school for free. They pay tuition. I don’t know why this concept is so difficult for you to grasp but people have choice now. They can choose to send their kids to private school (if they can get in). They can apply for need-based financial aid.

      The idea – again the excluded middle – that you seem to have that without vouchers poor students can’t attend private schools is deeply flawed. The opportunity and choice exists now.

  14. #25 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 4:18 pm

    Read the Swedish example. Any kid can go to any school which abides by the rules for free. That is equal choice. I have mentioned nor will I defend proposals which still exclude poor people.

    If you want Swedish health care then why won’t you even consider Swedish education?

    • #26 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 4:45 pm

      James – that is an excellent question.

      And the program in Sweden is based on private schools accepting the same amount as the state spends – which means that private schools would actually be accepting far less than they charge in tuition. Do you really think private schools in the US are going to accept that?

      The BBC article points out that in the UK they have the same situation we have here – private schools are preexisting and longstanding whereas in Sweden there were almost no private schools. In Utah cost per pupil is around $7500 for public schools; that means Judge would have to offer a $2500 discount; at Rowland Hall the discount would run between seven and nine thousand dollars per student per year.

      It really comes back to the basic stumbling block: Vouchers do not address the real problem. They are an expensive distraction. (To put it in different terms: vouchers address the problem at an individual level when the problem is systemic.)

  15. #27 by James Farmer on January 19, 2010 - 4:28 pm

    brew:

    Sorry, but I have to weigh in on one point you make. You state that any kid can go to any school that abides by the rules for free. However, the article you cite states that acceptance is based on a first-come first-served basis. That, to me, suggests that any kid can go to any school of their choosing, just so long as there is room. Maybe such scenario works in Sweden, but just how do you think that system is going to work in the US?

  16. #28 by James Farmer on January 19, 2010 - 6:34 pm

    Do you really think private schools in the US are going to accept that?

    Of course not! Why would they? It makes absolutely no sense; unless, of course, the kid is an incredibly gifted ski racer and is applying to Rowland Hall. ;)

  17. #29 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 8:00 pm

    Glenden and James are exhibiting incredibly static thinking.

    No, I don’t think that all current existing private schools with their football stadiums and ivy covered walls to pay for will accept $7500. They will not participate in this system.

    What is likely to happen is that a new kind of private school which resemble the current charter schools, with much leaner administrative staffs, no football stadiums, no Taj Mahals, but with a more focused approach on teaching and learning will emerge. Some of these schools will do well, some will not. The ones that do well will attract students and parents including some who currently attend the overpriced non-particiapting country club private schools.

    And yes, at any given point in time a school can only accept as many kids as their building holds. This system will not be able to defy the laws and time and space and create worm-holes or wrinkles in the universe.

    • #30 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 9:34 pm

      Yeah, brewski, cause Americans really love high schools with no extra-curricular activities. Your class resentments are showing again (“overpriced non-participating country club private schools”???).

  18. #31 by James Farmer on January 19, 2010 - 8:24 pm

    This system will not be able to defy the laws and time and space and create worm-holes or wrinkles in the universe.

    brew:

    WTH? The grammar thing is, I surmise, getting in the way of your communication abilities … yet again. :)

  19. #32 by A N O'Ther on January 19, 2010 - 8:37 pm

    James Farmer :

    This system will not be able to defy the laws and time and space and create worm-holes or wrinkles in the universe.

    brew:
    WTH? The grammar thing is, I surmise, getting in the way of your communication abilities … yet again.

    Viewing brewski’s nitpicking of others’ grammar, I am forcibly reminded of certain drunken legislators and their opposition to drinking.

  20. #33 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 8:39 pm

    I apologize for my typing.

  21. #34 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 10:16 pm

    Your racism, classism, elitism and snobbery are showing again.

    If everyone cared so much about football stadiums, then charter schools wouldn’t exist. But they do. Ergo, you are wrong again.

    And I never said ANYTHING about no extracurricular activities. As an example many charter schools have extracurricular activities, just not the really expensive ones. Soccer, cross country, climbing, and environmental studies are examples that schools can and do have without needing to sell bricks for a monument to a Bulldog.

    • #35 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 11:05 pm

      brewski – do you even read what you write? Is your brain connected to your fingers when you write things? Are you really so stupid that you think your last comment makes any kind of sense? You actually think that pointing out that people like their extra curricular activities (including football) is a sign of racism, classism, elitism and snobbery? Have you taken complete and utter leave of your senses?

  22. #36 by brewski on January 19, 2010 - 11:16 pm

    No I don’t think that football has anything to do with your racism, classism, elitism and snobbery. What I said is that there is a model for schools which exists which does not include expensive extracurricular activities. Separately, your desire to make sure that poor people of color don’t have the same choices that you had shows how deeply you are a racist, classist, elitist and snob.

    • #37 by Glenden Brown on January 19, 2010 - 11:24 pm

      brewski – I keep saying this and you keep not understanding. No one is stopping low income families from applying to private schools and applying for financial aid – financial aid programs designed to help low income families afford private schools. The real goal should be to make every public school a great school. Is there some reason you can’t grasp these simple concepts?

  23. #38 by Uncle Rico on January 20, 2010 - 10:16 am

    Without attributing any particular way of thinking to brew, my sense is that in general conservatives who support vouchers are less concerned with the quality of education of students in “failing” public schools (whatever that means–no matter how well public schools perform, it is never up to snuff, thus they are always failing) than they are with funneling tax dollars into religious enterprises. This belief stems, in part, from the fact that these same folks in general are vehemently against vouchers (or whatever equivalent moniker you want to attach) for other services in which religion is uninvolved, less involved, or is not a direct beneficiary of public dollars, to wit: medical care vouchers (for those with no access or with access only to “failing” medical providers), food vouchers (for those with no or limited access to wholesome and nutritious food [read "failing" food providers]), house vouchers (for those with no roof over their head and/or who are trapped in “failing” communities), employment/unemployment vouchers (for those with no employment or access to only “failing” [low paying, dead-end employment opportunities]), etc.

    I admit I’m cynical about the whole thing, but to me, the “access to better schools” argument is analogous to the argument made by ATV enthusiasts that ATVs must be allowed into wilderness areas so that the elderly and the disabled have “equal access.” Although that may be (no, unquestionably is) true in some cases, overall the argument is just an emotional red herring the purpose of which is to sway public opinion and protect the real objective: to ensure that ATV enthusiasts can cart their generators, coolers, stereos, etc. into the wilderness and destroy it. I view the school voucher issue the same way with the voucher proponents being the ATV enthusiasts and the students in failing schools being the elderly/ disabled.

  24. #39 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 20, 2010 - 12:04 pm

    Brewski–

    I sympathize with your position, and I appreciate that you seem to have a good grasp of what you want. But I want to say now and forever that I tire of the strawman you always throw out at the beginning of the voucher argument:

    You oppose the idea that people who do have children (not you) who are poor (not you) should have the choice to attend the private school you attended. . .your desire to make sure that poor people of color don’t have the same choices that you had shows how deeply you are a racist, classist, elitist and snob.

    Neither Glenden nor anyone else I’m aware of made any statement or betrayed any sentiments of the kind. Opposing vouchers isn’t about keeping poor (or black) kids out of private schools, or else the rich people in Salt Lake Valley wouldn’t be in favor of vouchers.

    One argument against vouchers which I subscribe to is that public schools already face funding problems and that public money shouldn’t be going to fund private enterprise. I personally want our children to have choice, but I want it in the form of charter schools, or at least price-controlled private schools. It’s a consequence of not having vouchers that poor students don’t end up in private schools, but it’s a consequence of having vouchers that public schools don’t get as much funding.

    In researching my argument, I came across this document about Utah’s proposed voucher program. Wow! Sounds like a sweet deal! It can save us money, reduce public teachers’ workloads, and introduce competition into education.

    Of course, if you then go to Judge Memorial’s tuition page, you can see that the $3000 maximum per student “scholarship” provided by the voucher system still leaves something to be desired. I don’t know how good Judge’s financial aid system is, but I can’t imagine it can help most $21,000 or less families to cover the extra $6,200 plus fees. Private schools, unlike public schools, are elitist in nature; they’re small and therefore necessarily exclusive, so they want to keep out the riffraff. The benefits of financial stability in mind, the poor categorically tend to be considered riffraff much more often than the wealthy, even when they perform well on an individual level.

    There exists a substantial concern that the shifting of public funds to private education, with all the rights of exclusion that private education maintains, will leave an undue burden of special-needs and low-income education in the hands of government, completely imbalanced by the loss of additional funds from traditional-needs students, which normally would have been spread around. To use universal healthcare as a metaphor, what we’re asking is: what happens to all of the kids with pre-existing conditions if the risk pool is unconditionally privatized? The answer: the government faces staggering costs as it tries to cover them while losing its ability to spread out the risk. Public education can’t be established as the waste-zone, as the place we dump all of the kids who aren’t financially or genetically worthy of a good education.

    From what I can see, a well-administered, cost-controlled voucher system wouldn’t be a bad idea. But wouldn’t it be a better idea to just fix what we have? Can’t we innovate within the existing system rather than outsource? I mean, what would happen if we spent what Judge charges in tuition on our students each year and reduced some administration costs? Besides, some children will have to stay in the public school system, invariably, and won’t we kind of be leaving them behind? As it is, the proposed voucher program seems to be a great service to the middle-class and a bit of a boon to the upper-class. I just don’t know where the littlest of the little guys will have to sit when we’re done playing musical desks.

    In any case, a review of the research is in order. We have some serious problems with our educational system, both culturally and governmentally. I was fascinated to read how Japan pays private firms to come up with effective curricula, maintains a high cultural respect for teachers, and engages its students personally with dozens of after-school extracurricular activities and clubs. In America, however, we joke that “those who can’t do, teach,” discuss vouchers as an alternative to repairing existing institutions, and pay the same private firm to administer discipline and curriculum that we pay to provide low-nutrient, high-fat lunches. We might as well hand over our school administration to George Pullman.

    Oh, and in your tangential tradition, I would like to point out the irony that the very people who want to “introduce competition into education,” which is a public need, are refusing to support the introduction of competition into health insurance, via a public option. Is that a double-standard?

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  25. #40 by brewski on January 20, 2010 - 10:38 pm

    Just to stand back and look at the big picture, why is it ok to have our food come from private farmers, our water (in some places) to come from private water companies, our doctors (even In Canada) to be in private practice, our homes built by private builders, our roads built by private contractors, our electricity provided (in most places) by private power companies….but when it comes to education, the hyporcrites like Glenden will only consider one model and that is the state employee government building school model (at least for everyone else after he bailed from the system)?

    There is no reason to believe that the government is more competent in providing this crucial service. If it is so clear that the government is better at running services and managing organizations than why don’t we collectivize all the farms and we should all live in Housing Council flats. Oh I guess that was tried and it didn’t work out so well.

    When you peel back Glenden’s argument what you see is that he is not concerned about the child and allowing him/her to get the best education. What he is far more concerned about is protecting the institution of the public school as a virtue by itself.

    Even though he waxes on about the superior education he received at the country club, while leaving his classmates behind in the Orwellian box of mediocrity, he still has this misty-eyed sentiment for the notion of public schools. It is the school itself he sees as the goal, not the education of the child.

    • #41 by Glenden Brown on January 21, 2010 - 9:44 am

      Do let’s stand back and look at the big picture. Public schools work for the overwhelming majority of students. Private schools are a balkanized mass – some are fantastic, some are good, some are extremely poor; some are religious and indoctrinate students but don’t teach them, some are secular, some are boarding schools, some are day schools, some are parts of integrated systems (i.e. the diocesan system in Utah for Catholic schools) others are stand alone institutions.

      Liberalism and progressivism have no problem reconciling the fact that some things work really well when left to private industry and can be left to private industry; some things can be left to private industry provided they are subject to very stringent public oversight (utilities, food production) other things can be left to private industry but require government guidance (i.e. private contractors are subject building codes for houses and offices which improve our safety). When the private sector fails, as it very often does, the public must step in to regulate it and at times to replace it. Public education evolved because the private sector was not delivering the necessary and desired outcome. Public education exists because the private sector failed. And public education is working – for the overwhelming majority of students. Where public schools aren’t working, the progressive response is to ask “How do we fix this public school? How do we make it work for every student?” The conservative response is to say, “Send the students into the marketplace hope they manage to find an education and if they don’t that’s just too darn bad.”

      Private schools don’t work for every kid. They sound like a good idea and for some students they are; I thrived at Judge and I think my friends did. But some kids struggled at Judge – it wasn’t the academics. My brother struggled at Judge and might very well have done better in the public schools. Some private education is better than public education but lots of private schools aren’t better (there was a recent court case in California in which a group of Christian schools sued because the state university system did not accept some of their classes for admission requirements; teaching creationism doesn’t count as science.) Liberty University springs to mind as one big example of a private school (college level in this example) which is clearly academically inferior to the public universities. I would argue you get a better educaiton at the U than at BYU. I’m trying to remember which schoo lit is but there is a Christian academy here in Salt Lake that claims to teach a “biblically based” curriculum; it’s students are not getting a good education, they are getting religious indoctrination; of course the parents whose kids attend that school aren’t interested in their kids academic achievements. Public schools are accountable to the public. We can demand reforms, changes and so on. Private schools are not subject to such accountability.

      The hypocrisy is yours brewski – you build an argument around the notion of “market forces” and “competition” but want government subsidies, because that’s what vouchers are – government subsidies for private institutions. Your blind faith, your fundamentalist belief in the market has blinded you. You’re ignorant of the realities of private schools; every time you describe Judge as a country club, all you reveal is that everything you know about private schools, you learned by watching The Facts of Life.

  26. #42 by Cliff Lyon on January 21, 2010 - 9:59 am

    Brewski,

    The answer you’re looking for lies in the concept of profit. What things should people profit from.

    Do you think companies should profit from education and roads? Health?

    Unless you believe the profit motive has no corrupting tendencies, the answer is no. Privatization is a very bad thing sometimes.

    I KNOW you will agree.

  27. #43 by Uncle Rico on January 21, 2010 - 10:16 am

    What is it about the conservative mind that prevents a person from seing gray scale? Why are the options always limited to black or white, left or right, up or down, you’re either with us or your against us?

    I’m not going to put words in Glenden’s mouth or fight his battles, but I don’t interpret anything he has said to reflect the idea that there is one education model, and that one and only model is the public education model. Instead, what I interpret Glenden to say is that there is a place for both public schools and private schools. We just shouldn’t be funneling public dollars into private schools. Instead, we should be funneling those public dollars into public schools.

    How we get from that to total and complete collectivism is beyond me, but since there is an apparent insistence on making a false choice between an exclusively public and an exclusively private world, lets flip the question. If it is so clear that the private sector is more competent in providing services and managing organizations then the government, why don’t we just privatize the entire world. Lets get rid of public libraries because Borders and Barnes & Noble are far more efficient and better at providing access to books. Let’s eliminate public universities because Bob Jones University is far better at providing student with a post-secondary education. Let’s get rid of public hospitals because everyone knows that private hospitals provide far superior care. Let’s eliminate public parks because Disneyland and Lagoon are a hell of a lot better then say Sugarhouse Park. Let’s eliminate and privatize the fire department, police department, all department of transportation functions, all reclamation and related functions, etc., etc. Hell, let’s even privatize the military because the private sector can do it better. And remember, the issue isn’t whether a “goddamn piece of paper” says that the government is there to provide for some of these functions; we can always amend that stupid piece of paper. The issue is efficiency.

    I’d be shocked brew if you agreed that every public function should be privatized. If that is the case, then you see the absurdity of the claim that because we have public schools, then everything else in life must be public. Its legitimate to have discussions about what shade of gray we want the world to be. But to limit the choices to only the extreme ends of the chromatic (achromatic?) scale presents an extraordinarily narrow view of the world to which I really don’t believe you subscribe.

    • #44 by Glenden Brown on January 21, 2010 - 10:49 am

      Uncle Rico – that’s an accurate summation of my position.

  28. #45 by Cliff Lyon on January 21, 2010 - 11:32 am

    There are exactly ZERO successful purely free market based economies today or historically.

    You cannot separate the societal needs and economic ones. They are simply not mutually exclusive.

    Brewski’s premise is adopted from the largely uneducated political forces who have dreamt up some sort of Ayn Rand meets Milton Friedman ideology that attempts to argue that is you tax to much or regulate too much that people will give up trying to make money and stop investing.

    There is NO basis for this belief empirical or otherwise.

  29. #46 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 21, 2010 - 12:06 pm

    Brewski–

    Education is a fundamental to the success of our society. It isn’t a luxury. Like roads, it facilitates our society’s functioning to such an extent that it is effectively a necessity. Yet, you can still hire people to build a road for you, and you can still send your kids to private educators. The idea that we have to choose between all-public and all-private is a non-argument, but you do bring up a good point:

    Perhaps we should encourage competition between government industry and private industry. Maybe we should establish government farming and road-building institutions. Maybe all things which are needs, either for individuals or society, should have a non-profit government alternative, and the only things which should be for-profit are specialties and luxuries. So tell ya what–you introduce competition into schools via vouchers (even though competition already exists), and we’ll introduce competition into all of the other industries you named.

    The problem here is that, as Cliff points out, profit should not be acquirable in industries which are necessities. Can we afford to let people starve because a farmer can’t profit from feeding them? Can we afford to starve young minds because we underfunded the one school that would accept them? I don’t believe we can. As a society, our responsibility extends beyond the benefit of individuals and their private incentives. So I extend the same form of judgment to you that you pass on Glenden: you care more about a mythical view of market forces than you do about the education of a child.

    What this comes down to, I believe, is that both you and Glenden want children to be educated to the best extent. That’s admirable. You simply have different ways of accomplishing this. You can’t see the potential harm of using an individual’s motive for personal gain to provide benefits to a beholden party (the child), and Glenden doesn’t want to accept the risk–or potential benefits–of employing that motive. If we DO employ that particular motivation in the management of necessities, we need to make sure that it’s efficiently and effectively controlled.

    As I said before, a review of the research is in order. If vouchers can, in fact, provide greater per-student funding to public schools while allowing greater school choice, then I think it’s worth a shot. But we have to be careful. If we can’t have both, then it would be foolish to sacrifice our entree in favor of dessert. Too often privatization is a kind of conservative holy grail, with all of the grasping blind faith that metaphor entails. The effectiveness of private institutions should be tested when risk is low (e.g. at times of resource excess), but never deferred to in totality.

    Whether administered publicly or privately (with necessary controls), I believe that the institution of the public-access schools is a virtue in and of itself because it combines two elements: public and education. Education is a virtue in and of itself, and its availability to all people carries the attribute of virtue forward. This isn’t about shutting down private institutions. It’s about making sure that those things which we as individuals and society need never fall into the hands of those who might be motivated to deny our access to it. We NEED public schools to be funded and of the utmost quality, because public schools are the one place parents KNOW they can send their kids when all of the other options fail–or when all other doors are slammed in their face.

    Glenden, Rico: You guys took the words right out of my mouth in your posts, and did a better job than I would have. Thanks.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  30. #47 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 21, 2010 - 12:33 pm

    Cliff–

    I recently analyzed one such claim–that if you tax too much, the richest of the rich will stop producing what they produce. I calculated that, based on the claim that “Obama wants to increase the tax on the rich to 90%,” the average earner in the top 1% would still be keeping more than the average earner in the top 10% at their present tax rate. The idea that these people (who work SOOOO hard to do all of the inventing, engineering, designing, doctoring, and public development in our country) would suddenly become janitors and make a fraction of 10% of what they’re making now is ludicrous. If you made $1,000,000 a year (less than them) and suddenly were taxed down to $100,000, would you take a $30,000 position (before taxes) doing grunt work?

    This is all, of course, without taking into account the graduated tax scale, which allows them to keep even more money.

    I think we all need to think very long and hard about human motivations. I heard about a study recently where children were given time to play in coloring books. After they were done, they were given a reward for coloring. It wasn’t that hard to externalize these children’s motivations and drive them to seek the reward that came later rather than the reward of enjoying their play–their play had become labor. The amount of patience these children had for coloring went down quickly, as coloring became a painful anticipation of a withheld reward.

    How much of our society is privatized, anyway? The average private employee doesn’t have any more significant a profit element tied to his labor than a public one. I mean, if we really want people to work so hard, why don’t we profit-motivate everyone? Why don’t we stop giving money to the investors in dividends and start giving it to the workers? Wouldn’t that improve the product and profitability of the business? Heck, how can any of these businesses with wage caps even keep afloat when they don’t dangle a carrot in front of the workers’ noses? And if profit-motive is so meaningful, why don’t we just tax a little more and keep the excess in a reserve for public employee bonuses? Wouldn’t that yield the same benefit as privatization?

    Simple answer: the average person wants compensation beyond money, and many people even value non-monetary compensation more than just about anything else. That’s why Herman Melville kept writing, even though his books sold bupkus. Businessmen realized long ago that profit-motive isn’t the only way to get things done. Aside from the threat of unemployment, how much money do they spend on workplace psychology (e.g. employing labeling theory to placate the workers) rather than on the workers, because it yields more of a result than increasing worker pay? They just keep selling us this BS because it keeps the people and their votes in thrall.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  31. #48 by Kevin Owens on January 21, 2010 - 1:22 pm

    As Dwight said, non-monetary compensation is an important motivator. It’s why you see people going into art and the humanities; they’re obviously doing it for something other than the money.

    I used to be against progressive tax rates, but when I started making more money, it didn’t bother me so much. Income has a diminishing marginal value, so people with high incomes can afford to give more of their income away. I mean, after you’ve got your necessities taken care of, the rest is just gravy.

    High tax rates change motivation for productivity, but they don’t eliminate it. Even though a significant portion of my marginal income goes to taxes, I still want to make more money. However, it has discouraged me from taking less profitable work, which I would be doing gladly if the IRS wasn’t taking such a dear pound of flesh.

  32. #49 by Cliff on January 21, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    Dwight,

    Where did you get: “Obama wants to increase the tax on the rich to 90%,”

    That is of course, and absurd claim. Its amazing the people who claim to know what Obama “wants to do”

    Btw: I ran a VERY successful business with about 100 employees most of whom worked in the warehouse.

    After years of experimenting with incentives, I finally concluded that praise was more important than money.

    People are motivated by many things. Greed is just one of them. But it is also the most destructive.

    I don’t think Brewski has enough real life experience to understand this FACT.

  33. #50 by brewski on January 21, 2010 - 3:41 pm

    By far the most interesting thing about most of the various responses above is that they refute things I never said, attack policies I have not advocated, and justify the throw-more-money-at-the-status-quo position by shooting down the solvable flaws of other people’s ideas.

    The conservative response is to say, “Send the students into the marketplace hope they manage to find an education and if they don’t that’s just too darn bad.”

    I did not take this position. What I said was if a student is in a school that is not working for him (as little Glendy’s own story illustrated) then it is fundamentally wrong that only affluent families have the choice to go someplace else, including private schools. This is a far cry from “Send the students into the marketplace hope they manage to find an education and if they don’t that’s just too darn bad.” Glenden’s response illustrates that he won’t even consider modest ideas, while he shoots any idea down with crazy hyperbole.

    I also have never mentioned religion or creationism once, but this seems to be the most popular reason to shoot down any and all voucher proposals. Again, this is easily solved. It would be eminently feasible to have a list of qualifications that any voucher-accepting school must meet. This would include following curricula that the state sets. If they want to teach creationism, they can. But it could only be in addition to the standard science curriculum and not instead of.

    “Public schools are accountable to the public. We can demand reforms, changes and so on. Private schools are not subject to such accountability.”

    This is horseshit. It is just as easy to hold any voucher-accepting school to standards set by the state as is it to hold building contractors to a state building code. In fact, it would be easier for the state to impose accountability on private schools by taking away their voucher-accepting license than it is to try to force reform from the entrenched job-for-life civil servant establishment.

    The hypocrisy is yours brewski – you build an argument around the notion of “market forces” and “competition”.

    Again, a lie. I never used the words “market forces” or “competition”.

    The answer you’re looking for lies in the concept of profit.

    I never used the word or suggested “profit”.

    I also never suggested privatization of schools at all, so this whole school privatization argument is just a tangent. Nor did I suggest that anything else should be privatized. I did point out that the government (us) hire private contractors all the time to do public work and take public money for it, and no one is having a cow about that.

    There are exactly ZERO successful purely free market based economies today or historically.

    I never said there was, so I don’t know who Cliff is arguing against.

    Dwight, the main point here is not just how do we provide good education. The point I have been making is one of EQUALITY of access. As Glenden demonstrates, his school wasn’t working for him, so he was able to leave and choose Judge. I am not suggesting privatizing schools and I and not suggesting throwing everyone into a marketplace. What I am saying is that it is fundamentally wrong for our society to only allow affluent kids to pick up and choose to go to a better school.

    Apparently equality is not a priority among Regressives.

    • #51 by Glenden Brown on January 21, 2010 - 4:13 pm

      brewski – again with your lame “I never used that word” whine? The process as you described is the classical description of market forces at work. A rose by any other name and all that. The “voucher” concept asks us to believe that market forces will produce a better outcomes and asks us to believe that such an outcome would occur almost by magic – the invisible hand and all that. After writing The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins found himself again and again having to explain the metaphor to people – a similar dynamic is at work when people talk about market forces and competition. Suddenly otherwise bright people imagine some sort of magical process occurs (I’ve pointed out before there is a huge flaw in this thinking especially when it comes to educaton).

      You seem not to grasp this simple concept: right now, any parent can take his or her child out of public school and send them to a private school or even home school them if they wish (social skills be-damned!). My parents, as for example, took me out of the public schools – the choice exists right now. Your continued use of a dishonest talking point damages your credibility and poisons any case you might make this issue (and kind of makes you look like a douchebag).

      You’ve now decided to engage in attacks on public school teachers and administrators. Such attacks are part and parcel of almost any voucher discussion which is certainly suggestive that something other than concern for the students is present.

  34. #52 by Anonymous on January 22, 2010 - 1:47 pm

    Brewski–

    I hope I haven’t engaged too heavily in the straw-man burning. But I do have to question your martyrdom in the name of equality. Are you really for the degree of equality that you imply?

    I mean, come on, private schools aren’t illegal or anything. You CAN go to them. The inequality of which you speak is the same inequality that exists anywhere something may be purchased. It applies to quality of housing and food, availability of health care, vacation and relaxation time, even the appliances in your house. In short, it applies anytime a rich person can purchase something that enriches their lives while a poor person can’t. The thing is always there. It’s not government, but affordability, that’s the issue.

    I do understand, however, that, as long as the poor ARE paying money for schooling ALREADY (in the form of taxes), they should be able to devote those taxes to whatever source they wish, so long as that source fulfills the need for which the taxes were collected.

    Personally, I AM for the degree of equality I see shadowing your argument. I think that the government should be able to intervene in some way to allow students access to private schools (or charter schools, whatever), it just shouldn’t make our tax system beholden in any way whatsoever to the whims of profiteers. You shouldn’t stratify social and financial power in order to give a child a good education, or else his education likely won’t serve him well enough to take back what he lost in getting it.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  35. #53 by brewski on January 22, 2010 - 3:21 pm

    Dwight,
    Glenden is smoking dope if he thinks that there already exists equal opportunity for parents to send their kids to private school. Yes, schools do make an effort to help poorer kids afford the tuition. But partial fee reduction and other assistance does not equal opportunity make. The bottow line is that even after a school like Judge makes a good faith effort to help people by cutting their fee by 50% or 75%, the remaining couple thousand dollars per year is still a couple thousand dollars per year that a poor family doesn’t have. So their kid basically has to suck it up in the public school, like Glenden didn’t have to do.

    From that rightwingnut source, the Washington Post:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/10/AR2009041003073.html

    And Glenden’s arguments against my strictly tailored Swedish proposal went off on tangents about Bob Jones University and zero accountability. Then when I corrected him that I was advocating strict standards and licensing he somehow accused me of whining. I suppose I could easily make up things he never said and still hold him accountable for ideas he never advocated, and then I could accuse him of whining about that.

    In short, I don’t suggest that a voucher program is going to solve all problems for all kids or all schools. But it will level the playing field a bit by allowing poorer families a choice that right now only more affluent families have.

    • #54 by Glenden Brown on January 22, 2010 - 4:30 pm

      and at long last, brewski resorts to the special pleading (he will only discuss the very special very unique Swedish voucher program since no actual rules apply to it) and even manages to disprove his own point in the process (even with vouchers poor kids can’t afford existing private schools). Makes you wonder why he wouldn’t rather reform the existing system instead of wasting a decade inventing a new one.

      • #55 by Cliff Lyon on January 22, 2010 - 7:07 pm

        Glenden,

        At the risk of disappointing you, Brewski is unlikely to respond to anything you present in so much as it has any relevance to the real issues in a practical sense.

        Brewski has well established himself as a racist teabagger as uninformed as is required to block out reality.

  36. #56 by brewski on January 22, 2010 - 7:56 pm

    Cliff,
    Give me ONE example that I am a racist.

    Glenden,
    Where is the fault that I would support a voucher program that has the appropriate limtits and controls on it and not support the ones that don’t. In my world I we call that “critical thinking”. Apparently in your world you call that “special pleading”, whatever that means. I still have no idea why you want me to defend ideas that I don’t like. Bizarre and even more unconvincing.

    I also previously adressed the issue of existing private schools vs the kind that would likely emerge. Apparently dynamic analysis is far beyond the skills taught at Judge.

    I would love to reform the existing system. Sort of how you would have loved it too before you bailed on it for the cozy confines of Judge. Talk about wasting a decade. How many more decades have already been wasted? We will all be long dead and gone and the next ice age will have passed before the existing establishent will reform itself. Sort of like waiting for Congress to write its own ethics rules. Still waiting on that one. In the meantime I want to save children while you offer “Reflections” of Judge.

    • #57 by Glenden Brown on January 22, 2010 - 9:13 pm

      A couple points brewski –

      If you really want to delve into it, your entire argument rests on a series of special pleadings; you acknowledge that the program you favor is unlikely to move students into existing private schools – but, you declare, that’s not a problem since a bunch of new schools will spring up to take these new students and of course they’ll all be good because of the magic of the market which will force all the bad ones to close (denying that’s what you’re saying since you know arguing that the profit motive and education is a nonstarter). When it’s pointed out that process you favor will take years to produce effects, you dismiss that as irrelevant to solving the problem (the fierce urgency of whenever). When its pointed out that the scheme you favor is pretty like any other voucher scheme that’s been proposed you declare that’s not true since your scheme is actually totally unique that the problems common to all voucher proposals don’t adhere.

      Almost every comment you’ve made on this thread includes some form of personal attack, a ridiculous strawman argument and/or dishonest rhetoric. Starting to look you have a serious personal problem – a set of bitter and irrational resentments. I’m starting to wonder if maybe you wanted to get into a private school and they turned you down and you’re still nursing some decades old personal grudge against everyone else who did. You consistently ignore the simple and plain meaning of every statement I’ve made and continue to use dishonest rhetoric. Or maybe you’ve just always felt like people are looking down on you (even though they’re not) and you’re working out your personal issues. Call a therapist.

  37. #58 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 25, 2010 - 1:28 pm

    Brewski–

    I agree with your perspective. I believe that it excludes quite a few concerns, however, which Glenden’s perspective embodies (he, on the other hand, appears to be excluding some of your concerns).

    First, it must be understood that I (and, I assume, Glenden) come from a perspective that takes it as a given that public money, buildings, etc., should not be used for the benefit of for-profit institutions. I see vouchers as a viable option only if contingencies are made that allow for the expansion of private school attendance without making public facilities already constructed go to waste. They must also have the limits and controls you have mentioned. No government mandate should take the form of a giveaway to a particular institution, not even to schools. Government “scholarships” should provide equal access based on need. And, finally, the money per student of public schools must either increase or remain the same after inflation as it currently is, and no expansion of the initial voucher program should occur without increasing per student spending and reviewing the above requirements.

    Anyways, that’s my list. If private schools can meet the criteria, I see them as a viable alternative. Oh, and they should be required to accept students on a performance basis, perhaps even to the extent that a third party reviews applicants based on criteria agreed upon by the state and the school.

    Just some thoughts.

    Dwight

  38. #59 by brewski on January 25, 2010 - 5:12 pm

    Dwight,
    I appreciate you having given this some thought.

    A few things:

    I never mentioned for-profit schools. If we want to exclude them, then I’m ok with that.

    On the other hand, we use tax dollars all the time to pay private for-profit businesses to provide necessary services. Garbage collection, road construction, etc. So, there is nothing inherently wrong about hiring a for profit company from running a school. The only metric should be whether they do a good job or not. If they don’t then fire them. There are plenty of not-for-profits who do a lousy job so it is not as if for profit vs not for profit is some measure of quality of service. I am not advocating for profit schools at all. I am just advocating the a poor child have the same choices as an affluent child. It is amazing how equal opportunity rattles some people.

    By the way, the dirty secret of some school districts is that the already do outsource some of their special needs children to specialized private schools, and pay those schools with taxpayer money to do it. No one seems to hollar about that.

    Yes, per pupil spending would not go down, by definition.

    As a side note, I have read several studies (and I am not talking about ones from the AEI, Heritage, etc.) that have looked at all the different factors which may contribute to good outcomes in education. Of course parents’ education and income level is a strong indicator, that is well documented. But when they crank all the numbers and run multi-factor regression models, there really is no relationship between per pupil spending and outcomes. There is also no relationship bewteen class size and outcomes.

    This is pretty startling to some people since there is an intuitive appeal to both per pupil spending and class size, and everyone assumes that they both must result in better outcomes. But the data doesn’t show it.

    Glenden said a long while ago that it doesn’t matter if there is no relationship between per pupil spending and outcomes. He said we should spend more money on education as a “matter of social justice” even if it doesn’t result in better education. I suppose that is fine as long as we go through all the other social justice value statements and raise the pay for everyone who is underpaid. As a former fast-food worker, I think these people need to make a whole lot more. Also farmers, fishermen, meatpackers, agricultural workers. I mean, do we want the most essential item needed for existence (food) to be prepared by the lowest paid workers? Where is the social justice in that?

    Then there is the argument that we could attract better teachers if we paid more. So that implies that the teachers we have now would not be the same teachers we would have if we paid more. So if we paid more to attract better teachers, which of the current (less better) teachers are going to be the ones to go? I am pretty sure that when current teachers say that teachers should be paid more, they mean that they want to get paid more, not their better replacements. But this is the type of dynamic analysis which doesn’t get considered very often.

  39. #60 by Cliff Lyon on January 25, 2010 - 6:41 pm

    Brewski,

    Congratulations you just equated Education with garbage collection and paving roads.

    There is no such thing as a profitable school.

  40. #61 by brewski on January 25, 2010 - 9:13 pm

    Cliff,
    Congratulations on having no idea about meeting objectives, delivering results, managing organizations, leading a team, motivating people, exceeding goals…

    If you will read my post (I understand reading is not your strong suit), I explicitly said I was not advocating for-profit schools.

    Which part of the English language did you miss when you were summering in Nantucket? Did you prefer Quidnet or did Jetties?

  41. #62 by brewski on January 25, 2010 - 9:14 pm

    (yes I know my typing sucks)

  42. #63 by Glenden Brown on January 26, 2010 - 9:10 am

    brewski – you are either a liar or too stupid to understand what I wrote. I have argued before I believe education is a social justice issue; I have never said outcomes don’t matter. Since I don’t believe you are stupid that leaves me one option.

  43. #64 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 26, 2010 - 10:45 am

    Brewski–

    I think the crux of the concern, for me, is that government should only be involved in mandating the spending of money if there is an at-cost, base-level service which may be selected and which provides sufficiently for peoples’ needs. If private institutions and tuition assistance fit the bill, then great. One caveat: the current health care bill contains certain problems that would exist in an equal-access private education model: it mandates that people spend money, then allows groups which control their own prices to determine how much money people have to spend. I just worry about private institutions that feel they are free to increase their tuition year after year, because government has promised to pay out. Take care of that problem (i.e. control profit) and I have no problem with equal access.

    As I see it, private education and for-profit education are synonymous. The bottom-line in this determination is that the school is owned by an individual who profits if the school provides fewer services than the value it charges. In a school setting (and most employment settings, for that matter) how much benefit does the profit-motive actually provide? If private school teachers are actually better, perhaps it’s largely because they have more satisfying salaries (which are detached from profitability, anyway), their job security depends on their effectiveness, they are valued more fully, and their teaching environment is better prepared for effective learning.

    These private school benefits may must be reproduced in public education for social justice is to be served. Can we expect government mandates of performance and cost controls to retain these benefits in private education, or will the voucher program simply assimilate participating private schools into the public system, ultimately producing all of the same negative results? It seems like what you really want is charter schools, brewski. If so, I’m with you all the way.

    I agree with your assessment that we should spend more on fast-food workers et al as a matter of social justice–or simply as a matter of need and social contribution assessments, or as a product of society’s attitude toward its members. I think combining all of these reasons is best.

    Reviewing the literature, I see evidence that class size and spending tend to influence outcomes in education; although they aren’t the only solution, and simply paying teachers more won’t make them better teachers, allowing teachers more time per pupil, better compensation, and better class equipment will more than likely improve their ability to positively influence the learning habits of students. This dynamic is true in most jobs, and it is true in teaching.

    (Warning: Anecdote!) I come from a family of teachers, and have substitute taught, myself, and I can tell you that nothing can make a teacher want to be a good teacher–but there are a lot of factors that can make it hard to be a good teacher, and even which can make a good teacher give up. When your eyes have to dart back and forth just to make sure your students don’t rip up each others’ tests, you can bet class size reduction would help. Add to that the restrictions on teachers in terms of discipline, speech, and teaching method, and, well. . .’nuff said. (Anecdotal Evidence Ended)

    I don’t think any dynamic analysis can ignore the predictable factors. We can’t simply weed out the weak in education, until we only hire those teachers who can handle a class of 36 teenagers who want to test them at every chance. There aren’t enough adults who can do that, let alone enough trained educators. Furthermore, no dynamic analysis can ignore the impact of income on the stress one experiences in life. How can we expect our teachers to do a good job when society ridicules all but those teachers who have been enshrined in unrealistic television shows and movies?

    BTW: You have been fighting dirty. I appreciate that you haven’t been doing so with me, but it doesn’t serve the conversation to do it with others. Back off of your prejudices. As I see it, you and Glenden both want to improve education for our children; you think the solution exists in private enterprise, albeit with massive state control; Glenden believes it lies in improving the current public system. The more you talk about your system, the more it sounds like you really just want public schools without the performance-ignorant union entrenchment and detached administration. Is this a fair assessment?

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

  44. #65 by brewski on January 26, 2010 - 10:50 pm

    Dwight:
    I think is a pretty big gap between some of the principles you have laid out and what our government does now in every area other than education.

    government should only be involved in mandating the spending of money if there is an at-cost, base-level service which may be selected and which provides sufficiently for peoples’ needs.

    At cost? I don’t think Boeing sells F/A-18’s to the government “at cost”. Road contractors don’t repave I-80 “at cost”. Researchers win grants to do research and they actually take home some of that money for themselves (an old high school friend of mine is getting paid by an NEH grant to take a sabbatical and study flamenco dancing for a year and a half). Electric companies don’t sell power to the government as a customer “at cost”. Believe it or not, our world does not work as one giant volunteer effort with firms and organizations providing services and making no profit. The lure of potential profit is how firms attract capital in order to build the plants and equipment in order to make the stuff that we, including the government, all need and buys. Without profit, firms wouldn’t build the plants to build the planes, or the roads or much of anything.

    it mandates that people spend money, then allows groups which control their own prices to determine how much money people have to spend.

    I am not sure what you mean by this. Ideally the way a mandate would work is that everyone would be required to buy some basic kind of policy, and everyone could go onto some website and compare from a long list of competing plans from competing organizations, both for profit and not-for profit. The more competing choices and the more competing organizations, the better.

    I have had both for profit and not for profit health plans in my life and I can’t say I see much of a difference. In both cases they may deny coverage, they certainly both require generic drugs, and in both cases I have to deal with some nimrod in a cubicle who is making decisions for me. My parents who recently have gone on Medicare after being on for-profit insurance plans for the last 50 yrears have been shocked with how much worse Medicare is. The types of evil stories you hear about for-profit insurance companies are the same stories they have about Medicare. My dad’s follow-up appointment with his cardiologist after triple-bypass surgery was denied by Medicare as “not medically necessary”. So this demonizing of for-profit insurance companies, the worship of not for profit insurance and the principled goal of a government run plan doesn’t seem to be substantiated by anything other than pure faith. In fact, the CBO’s own estimation of a government run insurance plan was that it would be MORE expensive than most private plans due to the estimation that it would have a sicker group of members. (I have said that I simply don’t think the mandate will work for the simple reason of non-compliance by healthy people, so I am not advocating a mandate).

    I just worry about private institutions that feel they are free to increase their tuition year after year, because government has promised to pay out.

    It seems this is one of the easier problems to solve. If the per pupil amount spent in Utah is $8,000, then the amount of each voucher would be $8,000. In order for a school to keep their voucher-accepting license, they would be required to accept that amount as being payment in full. For special education students, the state now probably spends $10,000 per pupil. So those pupils would have a $10,000 voucher and could only use it at a school certified to also serve students with those needs.

    The bottom-line in this determination is that the school is owned by an individual who profits if the school provides fewer services than the value it charges.

    Your idea is that if the school takes an $8,000 voucher and only spend $7,000 per child on running the school then somehow that $1,000 is a loss to society. The way to measure whether there is a loss to society is not based on some checkbook measure, but rather whether or not the school is meeting its operational goals. Are the pupils learning? Are they prepared for the next grade? Are they exceeding in universal subject-matter exams? If the school is succeeding in educating children and is only spending $7,000 in doing so, that is far preferable than a school which spends more money and does not succeed in educating its pupils.

    These private school benefits may must be reproduced in public education for social justice is to be served

    In my wildest dreams.

    Reviewing the literature, I see evidence that class size and spending tend to influence outcomes in education

    I don’t think that is true at all. I don’t know what literature to which you refer, but pretty much everything I have read indicates that there is practically no relationship between per-pupil spending and class size with outcomes. In fact, in one famous study commissioned by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, proximity to the Canadian border was a stronger indicator of outcomes than either spending or class size.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/02/03/opinion/north-dakota-math-country.html?pagewanted=1

    BTW: Yes I have been fighting dirty. I was encouraged to do so by the likes of Cliff, Glenden, Shane, Richard and Larry who pop off with pointed accusations of me being a racist, all conservatives are bigots, anyone who didn’t vote for Obama did so “solely” because of race, anyone who doesn’t support the corrupt Dem health care debacle is a racist et ceterahhh et ceterahhh et ceterahhh (my apologies to Yul Brynner.

  45. #66 by cav on January 27, 2010 - 7:41 am

    proximity to the Canadian border was a stronger indicator of outcomes than either spending or class size.

    Let’s do move that border south some. Please.

  46. #67 by Dwight Sheldon Adams on January 27, 2010 - 9:13 am

    Brewski–

    I’m aware that very little is provided “at-cost.” My point was that perhaps more individual necessities should have at-cost availability, while profit is derived from providing luxury enhancements of those services. There are many things which (at present, pending government management of them) require a for-profit basis, but I think that many of those should have profit restrictions. As long as our system depends on investors who sit back and absorb the wealth generated by our productivity, we have to provide dividends. That is something that should change, not be used as an excuse to expand our dependence on it.

    I worry about the mandate because, without proper controls, a mandate for public spending without price controls allows the provider of the service/product to charge whatever they want, knowing that the government is legally bound to pay out. I assume that most programs contain a price control element (even if that element is as insufficient as “lowest bidder wins”). I just wanted to make it clear that the voucher program must have a robust means of making sure that owners of private enterprise aren’t taking advantage of a government spending mandate to pad their pockets. Reasonable profit is fine, but it’s even more reasonable for public programs to have NO profit involved. Of course, we all know what government ownership of industry means: SOCIALISM! AAAAAHHHH!!!

    Part of the social justice challenge is determining which products and services may reasonably permit for luxury enhancements. Luxury enhancements in education, for instance, simply create the implication that basic education is inadequate (not simply that education styles are variable, as you imply), and that some children are getting institutional advantages to one of the fundamental prerequisites for effective participation in society. It would be like providing food for everyone at everyone’s cost, then telling the poor children that they had to be malnourished, because having a full belly satisfies their fundamental needs. Those needs which must be universally accessible must have a higher base standard of quality. It’s difficult to justify allowing luxury enhancements for education, as it implies an interclass disparity on a formative level. Education may be one area where “reasonable profit” equates to “little or no profit.”

    Somehow (in ways that have been discussed), I don’t believe that “equal access” would ever occur. There will always be private schools which are not voucher compliant (under your rules). Judge may even be one of them! Besides, there has to be more than parental preference that accounts for the miniscule growth in private school attendance in states with a voucher program. How long is it supposed to take for competition to have its effect? For new private schools to emerge and satisfy the demand of all of the parents who now have options? Perhaps it would be more effective to attempt to re-envision the public education system, but this seems to be out of the question.

    In light of your price-fixing proposal, which would seem to take care of the problems I’ve mentioned, I have to reassert this question: if you limit the cost of qualifying private education, don’t you just take away the profit-motive or demand that schools diminish the services they provide? Private schools are already more expensive than public, and unless we accept your questionable premise that this expense has absolutely nothing to do with the higher quality of services you claim they provide, we’re left, once again, just changing private schools into public ones. As I said before, it seems like you just want charter schools (i.e. smaller schools, run more independently, funded and regulated along public school standards). Can’t they provide the competition you’re talking about, albeit on a strictly product level, without mingling with profit? Can’t we create a mechanism by which those schools which provide positive results but save money get some kind of institutional benefit, rather than motivate the schools from the top-down? Once again, solutions within the existing structure seem out of the question.

    The literature to which I refer. It reviews educational spending, class sizes, the voucher program, etc., on many levels, and finds that class size (for which spending is of primary import) is more important than public/private status.

    The fact remains (and I challenge you to defy it) that there are many high quality, effective public schools out there. We shouldn’t gamble on a child’s future in the hope that the free market will handle the problem. Rather, we should investigate WHY some schools do better, and try to apply what we learn to the problem. I still believe that divergent solutions are also acceptible, and would support a vigorous charter school program, and even private school vouchers under strict outcome requirements. But just as you say that our confidence in government is a matter of faith, I say that your confidence in private institutions is likewise. We should put faith aside, and let options–with appropriate controls–decide the outcome.

    Dwight Sheldon Adams

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: