government schools

Slate columnist: Parents who send their kids to private school are “bad people”

Public education is a sacred cow to the left.  Despite throwing more money at public schools, test scores continue to fall.  Desperate parents, who only want what is best for their kids, are flocking to either private schools or homeschooling their kids.  However, Slate’s Allison Benedikt says that these parents are “bad people”:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)

So, she knows she’s not an expert in educational policy, but she’s going to get on her soapbox anyways?

School wants parents to contract against guns

Imagine you’re looking through the typical first day of school paperwork that kids invariably bring home.  Stuck in the stack of forms asking about school lunch and who can pick your kids up is a contract.  This “contract,” however, deals with your guns.  What would you do?

Well, some parents in Arizona know exactly what they will do…since they’ve been dealing with it for a couple of years (emphasis added):

The parents of junior high and high school students in the Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson are being asked to sign a contract agreeing to teach their children to settle arguments without violence. The “Student/Parent/Principal Contract For Eliminating Guns and Weapons at School” was sent as part of the district’s registration packet for the 2013-2014 school year.

Under the contract, parents must agree to teach “…including by personal example, my teenager about the dangers and consequences of the misuse of guns and weapons and I will keep any guns and all weapons under lock and away from school grounds and away from my children.

Now, on the surface, this isn’t a big deal.  The school system says there are no ramifications for students whose parents refuse to sign the contract.  In addition, it asks that you keep guns secured and away from school grounds.  All sound pretty reasonable.  However, it also says that you will keep guns away from your children.

Common Core: More Federal Government Involvement in Education

Common Core

Anyone who follows education on any level has probably heard the phrase “Common Core” regarding curriculum in their home state.  They’ve probably also heard that there is some push back against it, though most don’t really understand what the issue really is.

It would be easy to assume that Common Core requires such controversial topics as anthropogenic global warming and gun control to be taught.  Well, that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Oh, it’s happening, but it doesn’t seem to be the fault of the cirriculum.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems.

The idea behind Common Core is a national standard for education.  Basically, it’s an attempt to create a single, challenging standard that would raise the educational value of public school.


Common Core does create a single standard.  It does appear to be genuinely challenging as well.  So, what’s the problem?

Well, first, Common Core is really just a continuation of one of the biggest problems with traditional education, and that is the fact that it treats all students as identical.  Even the name, Common Core, alludes to this fact.

Republican Tom McMillin, a Michigan lawmaker introduced a bill to repeal that’s state’s use of Common Core, said, “We don’t want our kids to be common. We want our kids in Michigan to be exceptional.”  Since my home state of Georgia uses this standard, I can understand the sentiment.

Common Core also places and emphasis on how answers are acheived, rather than just getting it right.  The argument appears to be that the process matters more in our technologically advanced world for whatever reason.  I get the gist of the concept.  I really do.  Unfortunately, this continues to make the same assumption that all kids are the same.

It’s time to stop paying for other people’s college educations


Over the past several decades, it has become accepted that the cost of higher education will continue to rise every year, far outpacing inflation or any other category (save perhaps health care).  Every year, more and more colleges raise tuition to ungodly levels, fully knowing that the federal government will cover the difference.  There is little incentive for them to do otherwise.  Quite simply, college is not anything close to resembling a free market.  We have come to accept the idea that everyone should be able to go to college, including ones that are wildly overpriced, and that government - that is, taxpayers - should foot the bill.

And yet, even questioning this is akin to wanting poor kids to suffer.  During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney, supposedly from the party that likes free markets, was a staunch defender of Pell Grants, one of the primary government programs used to subsidize college tuition.  Romney even expressed a desire to expand the program.  For those who don’t know, the basic principle of Pell Grants is that the government gives you money towards your tuition - with no obligation to pay it back.  There are various qualifiers for this money, but it is basically a gift if you get it.  So needless to say, when I heard this during the debate, one thing was clear - you’re not allowed to question the basic idea that government has an interest, even an obligation, to pay for college for those who cannot afford it.

Lies My History Teacher Told Me About the War on Terror

Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf gives us a disturbing glimpse of what American schoolchildren are being taught about the War on Terror, in the form of excerpts from a widely-used high school history textbook. The whole piece is a disturbing catalog of hilarious propaganda presented as fact to kids who are increasingly too young to remember much about the immediate aftermath the 9/11 attacks, but  I figured I’d focus on the paragraph dealing with the Patriot Act, which manages to get a truly impressive number of things wrong in a short space.

The President also asked Congress to pass legislation to help law enforcement agencies track down terrorist suspects. Drafting the legislation took time. Congress had to balance Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure with the need to increase security.

A Quick Round-Up on Education Policy and the 2012 Elections

Written by Andrew Coulson, Director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Californians approved Prop 30, a $6 trillion dollar tax hike intended to save public schools from “devastating” cuts. In fact, the state is already spending around $30 billion more today on public schooling than it did in the early 1970s, after controlling for both enrollment growth and inflation—and SAT scores, the only academic outcome measure going back that far, are down. Prediction: this $6 billion will have little impact on children’s education even if it does make it to the school level. Instead, it will further slow California’s economy and drive a few more businesses out of the state.

Georgia approved a new charter school authorizer, which should lead to more rapid growth of charter schools in that state. Based on recent research published by the Cato Institute, this will increase generally mediocre options within the public school sector by, in part, cannibalizing generally better options in the private sector. Georgia can avoid a net reduction in educational diversity, freedom, and quality by expanding its existing education tax credit program.

CA Prop 30 - Using Students as Bait

Liberals are masters at messaging and manipulating the legislative process - and a great example of this is the campaign for Prop 30 in California - a “temporary” 1/4 cent increase in the state sales tax and 1% increase in personal income tax for those earning over $250,000/yr - those who can “most afford it,” a direct quote from the proposition.

First, we have the title: “The Schools and Local Public Safety Act of 2012.”  Instead of “Personal and Sales Tax Increase Act of 2012.”

Then the graphics and ads:

yes on prop 30

The hokey music, the wholesome looking school teachers, the all-American apple graphic - it’s all so feel-good! How can you possibly want to DENY these children the teachers that have been laid off over the past few years, the arts and music education?  If you do, you must be a vile human being.

What they’re not telling you:

Legislators have had ample opportunity to cut true wasteful spending, yet they cut things that would gain attention and empathy from the voters: schools and public safety. That way when they come, hat in hand, to ask for a sales tax increase, the understanding electorate will say, “But of course!”

Guess what? It’s still NEW funding.  Adding to what is there before.  If they cut Assembly member benefits or office staff or stopped spending so much on welfare or attempting to build bullet trains, no one would care. But they purposely axed teachers so they would have this excuse to prey on the emotions of low information voters and get what they really want - more money to fund their progressive agenda.

Time to kill No Child Left Behind

So, it seems that 10 states, including my own Georgia, are being given “flexibility” by the White House regarding No Child Left Behind.  That’s just super.  The run down via Fox News:

The first 10 states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval, according to an official.

Meanwhile, 28 other states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, “have indicated their intent to seek flexibility,” the official said.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Obama’s action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead.

Obama Offers No Hope for Minority Children

In 2009, Democrats quietly issued the death certificate for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program by slashing its budget on the way to phasing it out altogether. It is unheard of for Democrats to be so enthusiastic about cutting funding for anything other than the military, so this must have been a drastic case indeed to convince them that the program needed to go. So what was it that led to the decision to end the program? Was it because it was too expensive? Not by a long shot, and besides, when was the last time you’ve heard a Democrat argue for ending a program just because it costs too much? Was it because of underperformance? No, it actually performed quite well. If you guessed it was because Obama and the Democrats fell prostrate to their masters in the teachers unions, now you are making some progress.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was founded in 2004 and became wildly successful. The program provided $7500 scholarships to students so that they could attend private schools. For students of the D.C. Public School system, which is at the very top of the national list of worst-performing public schools, and in one of the most violent districts in the nation, this was a lifeline out of poverty, and a path to a brighter future. The scholarships allowed students, nearly all from low-income families, and the vast majority of them being minority children, to escape the prison system for children known as the D.C. Public Schools. The fact that minority children could take these scholarships and go to private schools was quite a bargain, considering that the public school system in D.C. was spending $18,000 per child per year, and still managing to turn out some the worst academically achieving children in the country. To give you an idea of how bad it was in the DCPSS, only 14% of 8th-graders attain proficiency at reading on their grade level.

Thad Cochran’s crony pal Haley Barbour is foolishly criticizing Chris McDaniel for opposing the Department of Education

It has come to this. An establishment Republican group backing Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) campaign is actually going to criticize his conservative opponent, Chris McDaniel, for opposing the federal Department of Education:

Mississippi Conservatives PAC plans to hit state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who narrowly beat Cochran in last week’s primary but failed to win 50 percent of the vote, with attacks focused on McDaniel’s claim that the Department of Education is unconstitutional, according to The Associated Press.

McDaniel has proclaimed on the campaign trail his belief that the government should stay out of education. But the AP reports Mississippi receives about $800 million in federal money for students in kindergarten through high school.

Former Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who is backing the super-PAC, told the AP that Cochran’s allies plan to make McDaniel’s position on that funding known.

“He’s talking about wiping out special education, for autism, physically disabled, mentally disabled, kids who are just slow,” Barbour said. “That will all be gone if McDaniel gets his way.”

McDaniel opposes the Department of Education because the Constitution doesn’t explicitly authorize Congress to meddle in what should be a function of state and local governments. He is, of course, still a supporter of public education. And it’s worth pointing out that the conservative candidate’s spouse was a teacher, according to his bio.

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