The education renaissance of Katrina, education Dark Ages of DC

posted at 10:55 am on July 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

If we could start over from scratch in building our public education system, how would we do it? In New Orleans, that question was far from academic in 2005 after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, the question was literal; at the end of the 2005-6 school year, the city only had six schools in operation.  Before Katrina, they may as well have had only six, as they had one of the worst-performing school districts in the nation.  As one person relates in this Reason TV video, one school had a valedictorian who could not pass a graduation exam in six attempts despite getting straight As in high school.

New Orleans had a choice in creating a new school system — and choice became a first principle, as Nick Gillespie explains:

Before hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, New Orleans had one of the worst performing public school districts in the nation. Katrina forced nearly a million people to leave their homes and caused almost $100 billion in damages. To an already failing public school system, the storm seemed to provide the final deathblow. But then something amazing happened. In the wake of Katrina, education reformers decided to seize the opportunity and start fresh with a system based on choice.

Today, New Orleans has the most market-based school system in the US. Sixty percent of New Orleans students currently attend charter schools, test scores are up, and talented and passionate educators from around the country are flocking to New Orleans to be a part of the education revolution. It’s too early to tell if the New Orleans experiment in school choice will succeed over the long term, but for the first time in decades people are optimistic about the future of New Orleans schools.

The key attributes are competition, parental choice, investment, and an end to the union deathgrip on New Orleans schools that kept children locked into failing schools and failing classrooms.  Parents in New Orleans have hope now that their children will get educated rather than baby-sat, and that will provide a renaissance of its own to a city struggling to get back on its feet.

Otherwise, we’ll end up with this, courtesy of Bob Ewing at the Daily Caller:

Everyone knew OSP would be a bargain.  DC has among the highest spending per pupil in the nation.  At a conservative estimate of $17,542, the public schools spend over $10,000 more per child than the $7,500 spent through the scholarship program.

But would OSP achieve measureable results?

The answer is a resounding yes.  Previous studies by Wolf showed an improvement in academic performance, to the point that a student participating in OSP from kindergarten through high school would likely be 2 ½ years ahead in reading.  The key finding in this final round of research, Wolf told us, was the graduation rates.   OSP dramatically increases prospects of high-school graduation.

Wolf pointed to research showing that high-school diplomas significantly improve the chance of getting a job.  And dropouts that do find employment earn about $8,500 less per year than their counterpoints with diplomas. Further, each graduate reduces the cost of crime by a stunning $112,000.  Cecelia Rouse, an economic advisor to President Obama, found that each additional high school graduate saves the country $260,000.

Simply put, OSP has a profoundly positive effect not just on students, but on the city and the country as a whole.

So when it came time for Congress to reauthorize OSP, it would seem to be a no-brainer:  Expand the program.

Instead, they killed it.

Of course.  They haven’t had a Katrina to refocus Congress on what ails education; instead, they’re acting in thrall to the teachers union.  Be sure to read it all; it’s as depressing as the Reason TV video is uplifting.


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It’s an ill wind that blows no good.

Disturb the Universe on July 8, 2010 at 10:59 AM

If we could start over from scratch in building our public education system, how would we do it?

1) No public schools.
2) Each kid gets a publically funded scholarship from PreSchool to 12th grade. Parents pick the school.
3) The state presents testing results of all schools available so parents can make informed decisions.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

But then something amazing happened. In the wake of Katrina, education reformers decided to seize the opportunity and start fresh with a system based on choice.
Today, New Orleans has the most market-based school system in the US. Sixty percent of New Orleans students currently attend charter schools, test scores are up, and talented and passionate educators from around the country are flocking to New Orleans to be a part of the education revolution.

I wonder if Bobby Jindal was quietly working on this, before the oil well blew in the Gulf!

Maybe some other school systems could use a good hurricane.

Steve Z on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

A few years ago, the argument over the new Nationals Ball Park came down to this:

Sorry kids, we don’t have a dime to repair the leaking toilet that drips on your desk. You see, we have to give $400,000,000 $600,000,000 to a Major League Baseball franchise owner, otherwise we won’t have a baseball team in DC.

BobMbx on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Give it a decade. The unions will get in and screw it all up.

tflst5 on July 8, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Sorry guys, but public schools are important, they must not be shut down. They are and have been an integral part of our society since the beginning of our nation…and it is even more important the last couple of decades that these schools not only exist, but students mandated to attend.
Who else is going to clean the houses of Charter School graduates, wash their cars, mow their lawns, scrub their toilets?
Government educated students are needed to fulfill the most basic entry level jobs…or become professors…

right2bright on July 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM

If we could start over from scratch in building our public education system, how would we do it?

The government should be responsible for education but may own no schools.

J_Crater on July 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM

BobMbx on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

$600,000,000 is what the DC city government spends daily on massages and luxury SUVs for personal use. That’s why they need all those traffic cameras…

fiatboomer on July 8, 2010 at 11:10 AM

But how on earth will Black people succeed if they’re to busy being educated to bolster their self-esteem!?!?!

abobo on July 8, 2010 at 11:11 AM

If we could start over from scratch in building our public education system, how would we do it?

1) No public schools.
2) Each kid gets a publically funded scholarship from PreSchool to 12th grade. Parents pick the school.
3) The state presents testing results of all schools available so parents can make informed decisions.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Good plan. Where is the prez candidate who will make it a top priority?

petefrt on July 8, 2010 at 11:14 AM

So when it came time for Congress to reauthorize OSP, it would seem to be a no-brainer: Expand the program.

Instead, they killed it.

Is anyone surprized by this? As I read the article, all I could think about was how much damage an educated urban populous would do to the Democrats’ carefully laid plans.

Liberals go into full-blown panic mode over this sort of thing. In their minds, it’s a matter of self-defense; they HAD to kill this program in order to keep power.

logis on July 8, 2010 at 11:14 AM

one school had a valedictorian who could not pass a graduation exam in six attempts despite getting straight As in high school.

wow….just wow…

cmsinaz on July 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

1) No public schools.
2) Each kid gets a publically funded scholarship from PreSchool to 12th grade. Parents pick the school.
3) The state presents testing results of all schools available so parents can make informed decisions.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

But that would save money and improve education. Also, far too complicated. Could hurt Obama hymn production.

Beagle on July 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Just like Marxism, it always fails wherever it is tried. Yet people insist on doing it over and over again.

The fact that school choice and market-based education works doesn’t mean anything to people who insist on statism. They’re not interested in what works. They’re interested in what works for THEM.

Daggett on July 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

The key attributes are competition, parental choice, investment, and an end to the union deathgrip on New Orleans schools that kept children locked into failing schools and failing classrooms. Parents in New Orleans have hope now that their children will get educated rather than baby-sat, and that will provide a renaissance of its own to a city struggling to get back on its feet.

NEA: *hands over ears* I can’t hear you!

cmsinaz on July 8, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Unions are about as useful as ball-less republicans.

fogw on July 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Good plan. Where is the prez candidate who will make it a top priority?

petefrt on July 8, 2010 at 11:14 AM

I would NOT want a Presidential candidate\President to make this a legislative priority, it is not in the authority of the Federal government. Now if they want to use the bully pulpit to promote the idea and encourage states to to it, that would make me happy.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Good for N’awleans. DC’s not alone in their incompentancy…unfortunately.

kingsjester on July 8, 2010 at 11:20 AM

OT: via drudge
nanny state

cmsinaz on July 8, 2010 at 11:24 AM

But that would save money and improve education. Also, far too complicated. Could hurt Obama hymn production.

Beagle on July 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Think how easy it would be for states to budget for education. They could easily use historical data and average tuition in an area to set a baseline scholarship amount. Pensions\retirement plans would NOT be an issue to the state. It would be the school’s problem.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Guess who was was instrumental in changing the schools of New Orleans? No other than Paul Vallas, Superintendent of the Recovery School District of Louisiana, and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools. In 2002, Vallas narrowly lost the Illinois democratic nomination to none other than Rod Blagojevich. Davild Wilhelm, Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama were Blago’s top strategists and secured a victory for Blago. How odd.

MayorDaley on July 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Another reason to end public schools: monopoly brings bad news in tough times. If you had dozens of private charter schools in your city dealing with an economic downturn, some of them would have money, some wouldn’t. Some would lay off teachers, some wouldn’t.

Instead, state-level budget decisions are being made for schools. That means hundreds of layoffs. Then city-wide school budgets mean more cutbacks. All of the schools suffer.

Ironically, even the teachers are worse off in this situation. How do teachers find jobs when every school in a state faces the same budget situation? With private schools, good teachers have options.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

I would NOT want a Presidential candidate\President to make this a legislative priority, it is not in the authority of the Federal government. Now if they want to use the bully pulpit to promote the idea and encourage states to to it, that would make me happy.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

The Presidential priority could be to get Uncle Sam out of the school business. I think that could help open the floodgates to changes. In Washington DC, which is a special case, a President could implement a charter school system that saved money and produced better results. That gives him two successes to point out.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 11:35 AM

right2bright on July 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Sweet! You had me going for second there.

CurtZHP on July 8, 2010 at 11:36 AM

I strongly support school vouchers, which is why I would be curious to see the results of NO in about 6-8 years.

One of the variables missing from the OSP study is the parental involvement. The children who are in the program are there because their PARENTS put them there. These parents have an interest in seeing their children succeed, so they are more likely to make them do their homework, make them study, make them behave in class, and support the teacher when the child misbehaves.

Schools can only do so much when it comes to educating a child. Parental involvement is the number one factor in how well a child will do in school. If you have a parent that is uninvolved in their child’s life, the child is less likely to succeed. There isn’t a whole lot the school/teacher can do about behavior problems, study, doing homework, etc.

So it will be interesting to see how the program in NO turns out when you mix in the kids who have little to no parental supervision.

ramrants on July 8, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Ironically, even the teachers are worse off in this situation. How do teachers find jobs when every school in a state faces the same budget situation? With private schools, good teachers have options.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

You have to question the teachers’ intelligence, or at least their union leadership, not to realize that if there are more employers that have to compete for their, the teachers, services, that they would be better off in the long run (at least the good teachers).

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Nonsense. The government has meddled and screwed up so many things best left to parents and individuals, while NOT doing what it should be: defending its borders and protecting its citizens. The Dept. of Education has ruined education with politicization. At what point will people decide to wrest control from the educorruptokleptocrats remains to be seen, but I have begun my own rebellion against the dinosaur machine by withdrawing my child this year and homeschooling. I can’t in good conscience send her back to a school system that is intent on brainwashing and miseducating her.

Scherzophrenic on July 8, 2010 at 11:45 AM

One of the variables missing from the OSP study is the parental involvement. The children who are in the program are there because their PARENTS put them there.

ramrants on July 8, 2010 at 11:39 AM

The OSP program was lottery base since demand out stripped supply. I think studies have been done to compare student performance of the those that won the lottery to those that lost. This sort of removes the parental element. I think the results show the winning kids did better than the losing kids.

No time to search for the study, so please take this with a grain of salt in case my memory is not serving me correctly.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM

right2bright on July 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Your subtle sarcasm had me going there. I was already thinking about my response. Bravo!

Kafir on July 8, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Guess who was was instrumental in changing the schools of New Orleans? No other than Paul Vallas, Superintendent of the Recovery School District of Louisiana, and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools. In 2002, Vallas narrowly lost the Illinois democratic nomination to none other than Rod Blagojevich. Davild Wilhelm, Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama were Blago’s top strategists and secured a victory for Blago. How odd.

MayorDaley on July 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Small world, eh? Obama is on the flip side of good policies and people everywhere you look.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 11:49 AM

You have to question the teachers’ intelligence, or at least their union leadership, not to realize that if there are more employers that have to compete for their, the teachers, services, that they would be better off in the long run (at least the good teachers).

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Union leadership realizes that charter schools may opt to be non-union shops. And I’m afraid there may be more lazy and misguided teachers and administrators who don’t care about students than there are good teachers.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Guess who was was instrumental in changing the schools of New Orleans? No other than Paul Vallas, Superintendent of the Recovery School District of Louisiana, and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
MayorDaley on July 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM

I was hoping Paul Vallas would have won that election. I would have considered voting for him the general. His election would have tilted the whole debate to the right, which is a good thing.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Does New Orleans have segregated schools? I didn’t see one white child in any of those schools. Weird.

Alden Pyle on July 8, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Ironically, even the teachers are worse off in this situation. How do teachers find jobs when every school in a state faces the same budget situation? With private schools, good teachers have options.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 11:33 AM

I know the rote sentiment we are all supposed to express – “the majority of teachers are wonderful, noble, great, blah, blah, blah.”

Sorry, most teachers do the bare minimum, simply teach straight from whatever textbook, give the same tests year after year, etc. And, really, for the most part that is all that is really needed if it is a halfway decent school with decent kids.

It doesn’t take some kind of modern socrates to teach fractions or social studies. And, of course, most teachers are not even that competent in what they are teaching. After all, they major in “education”, not math, or english, or whatever they teach. And, let’s face it, most of those who go into teaching were not the best and brightest in the first instance.

This is a long-winded way of pointing out that the vast majority of teachers don’t want a system where anything is based on performance or being a “good” teacher. They are perfectly happy with seniority based systems where they can’t be fired. If teachers as a whole cared a whit about education or “the children”, then they would not allow their unions to do what they do.

Monkeytoe on July 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM

I’m all for flooding DC and starting all over again. Get’s my support. None of this putting the pols on an Ark two by two though. That part’s out.

jeanie on July 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM

We need to invest in programs that make Muslims feel better about themselves then, all of our other problems will melt away. Then we need to pay government unionized employees more.
Oh yeah and tax carbon, heavily.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

TheSitRep on July 8, 2010 at 12:02 PM

When will Obama sick the justice department on them?

jukin on July 8, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Maybe some other school systems could use a good hurricane.

Steve Z on July 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

I’m convinced the entire government could use a good hurricane. Blow Washington DC away, except for the Constitution. And the Smithsonian. And the war memorials.

ZenDraken on July 8, 2010 at 12:07 PM

jeanie on July 8, 2010 at 11:55 AM

A Teaparty Patriot and Beltway Insider are walking together and find a magical lamp. After rubbing the lamp, a genie appears and grants each a wish.

The DC guy speaks up first. “I’d like a wall all the way around the district so that public opinion and voter input cannot find its way in.”

The Teaparty guy asks, “I’m very curious. Please tell me more about this wall.” The Genie explained, “Well, it’s about 150 feet high, 50 feet thick, protecting DC so that nothing can get in or out.” The Teapartier said, “Fill it up with water.”

/Scottsjoke

Laura in Maryland on July 8, 2010 at 12:15 PM

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Yes, so one possible federal priority would be to de-fund public education at the federal level; e.g., Dept. of Ed.

petefrt on July 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM

Louisiana has long had a high concentration of Catholic parish and parochial schools. There’s a reason. Good education.

publiuspen on July 8, 2010 at 12:22 PM

How is it that the same people who consider a woman’s choice of whether to abort her embryo/fetus at any time, even while its body has already been delivered, to be unquestionable… but if she chooses to give birth to that child, a few years later they insist she’s not competent to decide what school he should attend?

The Monster on July 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM

a few years later they insist she’s not competent to decide what school he should attend?

The Monster on July 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM

Because her decisions making abilities have already proven to be flawed since she allowed the child to be born.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 12:25 PM

I hate to be pessimistic, but give it 10 years. New Orleans can’t help themselves but to elect Democrats and the 1st Democrat to get elected who took a big check from the teacher’s union will open the door back up. Nothing will seem wrong at first. The problems won’t start up overnight, in fact i would wager the union will try to take credit for the turnaround. The stupid media will be right there to report it too.

Give it about 10 years and i will guarantee they’ll be back where they started.

tflst5 on July 8, 2010 at 12:26 PM

one possible federal priority would be to de-fund public education at the federal level; e.g., Dept. of Ed.

petefrt on July 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM

What glorious day that would be. Not only we would save a few bucks, but it would show that the electorate is educated enough on ideas and policies to accept this move.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Once parents choose the schools their children attend things will improve.

State: Here’s $600 a month for you to educate your child at any public or private school you wish.

Citizen: Mm. Okay.

Mojave Mark on July 8, 2010 at 12:32 PM

But then something amazing happened. In the wake of Katrina, education reformers decided to seize the opportunity and start fresh with a system based on choice.

reminds me of “creative destruction” principle that exists in business and most other areas of life. Trees grow better after ground clutter is destroyed by wildfires, good businesses prosper when other ideas are exposed to market forces and some fail, some don’t, and the direction is one of improvement. It’s good to see that we are relearning these lessons that are timeless.

ted c on July 8, 2010 at 12:43 PM

It’s all about what one of the teachers early on in the video said – local control instead of a huge ‘central office’ making decisions. When I talk to my public school teacher friends, they tell me the paperwork and levels of administrators and hoops to jump through to get anything addressed. I just walk down the hallway to the principals office – the buck stops with her. Our program adapts and improves constantly depending on the current student population and their specific needs – and our pricipal thoroughly knows the situation of each student. There’s no way a State Board of Education is better situated to make decisions that effect schools that they may never set foot into.

miConsevative on July 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Public schools would be ok if the teachers had character and values consistent with American core ideals. Sadly they have been supplanted with liberal cookie cutter goons from our liberal colleges. No God, no family values, no moral standards and no American exceptionalism. I’m old enough to remember teachers who prayed, read from the Bible, criticized bias media reports and cared for the individual student enough to interact with the parents.

wepeople on July 8, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Of course it won’t be reauthorized.

If voters were educated, who would there be left to line up for Obama Stash?

MNHawk on July 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

School choice is stupid.

If we have the right kind of union controls and affirmative action programs you can be pretty ignorant and unskilled and rise to do any job.

Look at this administration.

IlikedAUH2O on July 8, 2010 at 1:16 PM

The OSP program was lottery base since demand out stripped supply. I think studies have been done to compare student performance of the those that won the lottery to those that lost. This sort of removes the parental element. I think the results show the winning kids did better than the losing kids.

No time to search for the study, so please take this with a grain of salt in case my memory is not serving me correctly.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:46 AM

I know what study you are talking about. but, don’t parents enter their children into the lottery system? Even if those children don’t get into a private school and don’t fair as well, I would imagine they would do better than their peers because their parents are involved.

the kids that don’t make the lottery are usually lagging behind their peers that did win because the public school system as a whole lags behind for minority kids. The child has no control over the pace of the classes they attend.

The true test of school vouchers would be to take a failing school with all the same kids (kids that have parental involvement mixed with the kids that don’t) and privatize it, which is basically what NO is doing. This would be a more accurate evaluation on the merits of school vouchers.

One of the arguments that public school defenders have is not that private schools will take all the money, but private schools will take all the brightest kids and leave the public schools with the problem kids. They can’t come out and say this because that would be politically incorrect ( can you imagine – “the private schools get the cream of the drop and we get the riff-raff”), but this is a reason concern and a real possibility.

ok- maybe the money does play some role.

ramrants on July 8, 2010 at 1:26 PM

reminds me of “creative destruction” principle that exists in business and most other areas of life. Trees grow better after ground clutter is destroyed by wildfires, good businesses prosper when other ideas are exposed to market forces and some fail, some don’t, and the direction is one of improvement. It’s good to see that we are relearning these lessons that are timeless.

ted c on July 8, 2010 at 12:43 PM

But government is different. In government, there is innovation. So there’s only spending and destruction. Most government programs hurt the problem they’re trying to address:

gov’t education hurt the knowledge level of students;
MMS and EPA policies lead to less oversight of BP;
Medicare, Medicaid and health care reform hurt patients;
social security hurts the retirement prospects of citizens;
ICE enforcement ends up encouraging illegal immigration;
Fannie and Freddie hurt people who couldn’t affort mortgages.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 1:28 PM

One of the arguments that public school defenders have is not that private schools will take all the money, but private schools will take all the brightest kids and leave the public schools with the problem kids. They can’t come out and say this because that would be politically incorrect ( can you imagine – “the private schools get the cream of the drop and we get the riff-raff”), but this is a reason concern and a real possibility.

ok- maybe the money does play some role.

ramrants on July 8, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Actually, I’ve wondered about that too. If we had a system with no public schools, what would happen to the kids with parents who don’t give a damn? You could keep them from spending the education check on cigarettes and beer; but how do you get them to apply for placement in the charter schools?

I’m thinking you could require charter schools to take a certain percentage of kids with deadbeat parents. Maybe even give them an incentive to succeed with toubled kids- contracts for each kid, with rewards tied to that kids previous difficulty in school? If you can teach the kids that didn’t learn before, you get a bonus.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Actually, I’ve wondered about that too. If we had a system with no public schools, what would happen to the kids with parents who don’t give a damn? You could keep them from spending the education check on cigarettes and beer; but how do you get them to apply for placement in the charter schools?

I’m thinking you could require charter schools to take a certain percentage of kids with deadbeat parents. Maybe even give them an incentive to succeed with toubled kids- contracts for each kid, with rewards tied to that kids previous difficulty in school? If you can teach the kids that didn’t learn before, you get a bonus.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 1:34 PM

I would not have the money go directly to parents. Parents would pick the school and the school would then receive the funds from state.

As far as dead beat parents, I would say step one would be for schools in the area would have access to the names of kids not enrolled in any school and known not to be home schooled. The schools would then try to recruit the kid. The fall back would be forced assignment to a school, and a slap to the head of the parent(s).

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Public schools would be ok if the teachers had character and values consistent with American core ideals. Sadly they have been supplanted with liberal cookie cutter goons from our liberal colleges. No God, no family values, no moral standards and no American exceptionalism. I’m old enough to remember teachers who prayed, read from the Bible, criticized bias media reports and cared for the individual student enough to interact with the parents.

wepeople on July 8, 2010 at 1:05 PM

Much of that I think is true. However, a lot of it has to do with laws that state legislatures pass restricting what teachers and administrators can and cannot do. It’s also very much of a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” system where if a parent complains about a teacher being too demanding concerning academics and/or discipline the principal will come down on the teacher. That’s one nice thing about a voucher system-the principal would have the ability to calmly explain what options the parent has in putting their child into a different school.

As for the Libtard factor, can hardly argue with that. But, I feel a major reason that this has been happening is that for some reason Conservative people look down upon teachers and education in general maybe because their focus is more upon financial success/money and social status. The grumpiest thought their teachers were pretty much stupid a$$holes when they were kids and think they still think they are. Not a good environment in the way of encouraging children of Conservative families to get into the profession.

Teachers unions are afforded waaaaay more power by Conservatives than they actually have. They’re simply an easy target because the nationals seem to be run by a bunch of Commies. In Florida for example, teachers cannot strike and their contracts are non-binding.

The NEA membership is around 40% Republican voters and the national leadership does have a Republican-Conservative caucus that meets during conventions. The paradox is that most Conservative teachers don’t like unions, so don’t join in large enough numbers, leaving the Democrats-Libtards to run the show…

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

The NEA membership is around 40% Republican voters and the national leadership does have a Republican-Conservative caucus that meets during conventions. The paradox is that most Conservative teachers don’t like unions, so don’t join in large enough numbers, leaving the Democrats-Libtards to run the show…

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 8, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Good points. It’s also true that school boards have a major influence on school curriculum and policies. Do they tend to reflect their localities, or are they more liberal? In any bureacracy, it’s not the moderates who make policy. School systems end up drifting left because of a vocal minority.

In a system with lots of schools, you’d end up with a variety of options. I’m sure there would be some liberal schools as well as conservative ones. But parents would suddenly have a choice, and send their kids to whichever school they felt best prepared them for life. I think that’d give conservatives an advantage.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM

As far as dead beat parents, I would say step one would be for schools in the area would have access to the names of kids not enrolled in any school and known not to be home schooled. The schools would then try to recruit the kid. The fall back would be forced assignment to a school, and a slap to the head of the parent(s).

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Why would a school try and recruit a problem child? Where is the incentive for the schools to do this? It may be politically incorrect to say, but teachers and principles don’t want the problem children. They want the perfect kid that shows up everyday, does their homework, studies and participates in class.

We keep beating on teachers and administrators for these failing schools (and there is a lot they are responsible for), but the truth is there is only so much a school can do for a child. If a child never does their homework, can’t blame the teacher for that. If the child misses 50 days out of the year, can’t blame the teacher for that. If the child never behaves in class and the parent doesn’t show up for a parent/teacher conference, can’t blame the teacher for that. If a child is in the 5th grade but at their 12th school (and therefore behind), can’t blame the teacher for that. If a child has severe behavioral problems because they are sexually/physically abused at home, you can’t blame the teacher for that. When the parent is encouraging the child to fail so they will have to go to summer school (and not be home for the summer), you can’t blame the teacher for that. And these are all things that are the reality for teachers in the inner city. It’s not hard to understand why all the best teachers are not teaching in the inner city.

Educating a child is a dual responsibility. The school system has a responsibility to teach the kid to read, write and arithmetic. But the parent has a responsibility to make sure the school is doing their job. If a kid graduates from high school and can’t read, the school is to blame…but the parent shares more of the blame. How can your child go through 12 years of schooling and you NOT know they can’t read?

ramrants on July 8, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Ed and my fellow HA minions have no doubt seen John Stossel’s epochal Stupid in America 20/20 documentary that exposes the harm our Teachers’ unions have wreaked on America’s kids. If you haven’t, please go watch it now.

But something Ed and everyone else may not be aware of is that the writer/director/producer of an Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim, has made a feature film documentary on exactly this subject called Waiting for Superman which has garnered immense praise and momentum during its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

If you think the filmmaker behind An Inconvenient Truth couldn’t possibly make a film about school choice that in anyway agrees with John Stossel’s points in Stupid in America, apparently you’d be wrong, since the Unions and the left are already howling about Waiting for Superman and have called on Paramount to suspend its wide theatrical release.

Most interestingly though, there are many MANY liberals who are presented and supporters of school choice in the film… and the fact that Bill Gates is backing the charter initiatives in the film itself may actually prove to be a turning point in the fight against the union monopoly of our public schools.

Khorum on July 8, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I would NOT want a Presidential candidate\President to make this a legislative priority, it is not in the authority of the Federal government. Now if they want to use the bully pulpit to promote the idea and encourage states to to it, that would make me happy.

WashJeff on July 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Absolutely. We are furious here in Missouri that our state signed away its right to educate its own students by signing on to the common core standards…our governor and APPOINTED State Board of Education made this decision. Just what we need. More federal control for better results. Sure. It’s been controlled by the feds for 40 years now and scores have flatlined.

We are a group of parents and taxpayers getting the word out to our fellow Missourians on what’s going on in the state and/or districts. (If you google “Missouri Education Watchdog” or look on Facebook under the same name, you’ll find us). The state won’t give the citizens the true nature of Race to the Top, common core standards, AND HOW MUCH DEBT IT WILL INCUR FOR TAXPAYERS. We hope to stop the total takeover of our schools and children before it is too late.

manateespirit on July 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM

If we could start over from scratch in building our public education system, how would we do it?

The government should be responsible for education but may own no schools.

J_Crater on July 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Right to work laws must be added. No UNION monopoly! I do not like unions but since teachers would no Longer be Government employees, they should have a choice. Most businesses in Iowa are not unionized. They offer good benefits and fair pay to keep them out. Even if there are unions in companys,in Iowa the company may hire non-union employees. ONLY Government employees have monopoly’s. Iowans are working hard to change that socialist policy.

IowaWoman on July 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

right2bright

You act as if you are making a joke.

What is the joke about the Americans who hold the less than prestigious jobs?
That they are worthless?

What is your point, Citizen?

Observation on July 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Washington, D.C. started out as a swamp which nobody wanted: that’s why the land was taken from the surrounding states for use as the nation’s capitol.

It is simply an urban myth that the area has been improved.

landlines on July 8, 2010 at 5:24 PM

What is the joke about the Americans who hold the less than prestigious jobs?
That they are worthless?

What is your point, Citizen?

Observation on July 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM

Check the batteries on your snark meter.

Inanemergencydial on July 8, 2010 at 7:56 PM

Good points. It’s also true that school boards have a major influence on school curriculum and policies. Do they tend to reflect their localities, or are they more liberal? In any bureacracy, it’s not the moderates who make policy. School systems end up drifting left because of a vocal minority.

In a system with lots of schools, you’d end up with a variety of options. I’m sure there would be some liberal schools as well as conservative ones. But parents would suddenly have a choice, and send their kids to whichever school they felt best prepared them for life. I think that’d give conservatives an advantage.

hawksruleva on July 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM

The thing is, they should all be at least decent schools and working all the time to get better. I say it comes down to expectations, discipline and education standards. I don’t think that the average citizen out there is quite aware of what goes on in these middle and high schools anymore. A lot of these kids have juvenile records, are disruptive, disrespectful, really don’t care about failing…I

still

fail to see how that is the fault of teachers unions.

Those that aren’t actually juvenile delinquents seem to think that those who are are pretty cool and emulate them. Besides, the thugs act as kind of a shield that protects them from getting nailed for bad behavior a few notches down. Also, keep in mind that many of the worst students are a Federally protected species because they have learning and/or behavioral disabilities, and these laws include limits on punishment.

The vast majority of kids shouldn’t be exposed to the foul language, the violence, the groping, the bullying, the disrespect to elders, the drugs, the gang nonsense…but parents just won’t organize and do something about getting those elements out of the mainstream and into special programs.

Most parents are well-meaning but with all the stresses in their lives it’s human nature that they’ll often go after the easiest target-the teacher. Bottom line is they don’t want to be bothered and just expect their kid to be educated, and I can kinda agree with that, but just make sure your kid is doing their best.

When I was in school, my parents didn’t want to hear excuses, how bad Mr./Ms. so and so was as a teacher. If I brought home a bad grade I knew it was was my a$$ and they weren’t going to run down to the school or call the teacher and complain.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 8, 2010 at 8:33 PM

Prior to Katrina Orleans parish had the worst 50 schools in the state of Louisiana. Louisiana ranks 49th or 50th every year in public education. Our private a parochial schools are actually pretty good.

The superintendent of schools had resigned in disgust and the schools had been taken over by the state just before Katrina hit. Katrina actually gave NOLA a chance to be reborn.

roux on July 9, 2010 at 11:18 AM