Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"It's For the Children"

Scott was found with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head

Large bottles of aspirin are no longer the preferred method of suicide in Chicago?

There is the risk that are apples and oranges getting confused here. The corruption of process inherent in political administration is a problem. The existence of nonuniform institutions to deliver alternative, specialized or even superior services is a good thing.

Magnet schools do help to keep the middle class in the city and offer teachers enduring dreary years in dangerous holding facilities for the future felons of America at least the dream that they can be transferred into a functioning school. They also can offer a model of how education should work. When the town is burning down you do not knock down the only intact building and call it a firebreak. It is pure socialism to destroy it in the name of fairness.

The admissions process into every good school is subject to pressure and corruption. It is a standing sure fire seller for journals in New York to run articles on the desperate efforts of Upper Middle Class parents to place their child in the right private preschool. There is an enormous industry devoted to helping get 4 year old children into schools that their parents are convinced will set them up for life. That is just a market condition, even if it is subject to manipulation and the self righteous and often hypocritical ostensible leftists of the schools and their bien pessant customers set your teeth on edge.

The problem therefor is not that there are some good schools but that the government is involved in their management. Now normally the Magnet schools are subject to attack by left wing Levelers both among the parents of the general population, whose children would view the children in the magnet schools as a source of loose change, and by jealous teachers who do not want to actually work hard at a good school but who also hate to think that somebody someplace has a desk with a lock that isn't broken.

In NYC the "Specialized" High Schools are protected some by State Law. That delays the attacks usually and in government delay means victory since everything goes by legislative calendars. In addition the city has created large numbers of smaller theme schools that have taken some of the political pressure off of the elite schools. These have no better a student body then the regular 'zone' schools but are smaller and offer the possibility of letting the teacher entertain themselves by playing with the lessons. If a student actually does get something that is all the better.

Keeping expectations low can be a good thing if you are cynical enough because then the teacher can be given more freedom to alter their lessons. Basic curriculum in the theme schools still should be covered. For those who decry 'teaching to a test' budget constraints will limit the number of subject matter 'Regents' examinations in the future. My expectation is that without the light of the examination less teaching will happen.

In Chicago for many years those who did not send their children to an elite private school, like the Latin School of Chicago or the University of Chicago Laboratory School, or one of the Magnets had the option of a functioning Catholic parochial system. The Church schools in Chicago unlike in New York endured for years as the place where people of all faiths would send their children. Sending your child to a regular Chicago Public School should be considered evidence of child abuse.

How can the poison of corruption be withdrawn from the administration of education? It cannot because this is such a basic human need that people will use every advantage to secure something for their offspring. The corruption seen in arranging access to a superior education when it is under government control is a model for what will happen when the allocation of health care services is to be determined by government administrators.

The best that I can suggest is to privatize the individual schools and distribute vouchers to the parents. The inspection of the schools will undoubtedly yield a rich crop of fraud as they fail to meet standards to receive the voucher payments. The inspection of the Inspectors will also without a doubt provide for regular material for crusading journalists. Those School Inspectors in Chicago will under any Voucher program continue to be employees of the same civic machine that hires Building Inspectors. Once I knew someone who claimed he had to pay several times their recorded salary for a chance to get that humble office.

No comments: