Self-Help Schooling

In 2000, James Tooley took a detour from his research in the well-heeled districts of Hyderabad, India, and stumbled into an invisible network of private schools for the poor:

Out of curiosity, I left my work--looking at private schools for the elite and middle classes--and took an autorickshaw into the slum areas behind the imposing 16th-century Charminar in the center of the Old City. And to my surprise, I found private schools on almost every street corner. Inspired by that, I grew to know many of the school owners, teachers, parents, and children; I learned of their motivations and difficulties and their successes and requirements.

Since then I have found private schools in battle-scarred buildings in Somaliland and Sierra Leone; in the shanty town of Makoko built on stilts above the Lagos lagoons in Nigeria; scattered among the tin and cardboard huts of Africa's largest slum, Kibera, Kenya; in the teeming townships perched on the shoreline of Accra, Ghana; in slums and villages across India; among the "floating population" in Beijing; and in remote Himalayan villages in China. Indeed, I have yet to find a developing country environment where private schools for the poor don't exist.

Among his discoveries: The schools tend to be for-profit operations run by local entrepreneurs, and they tend to provide a better education than the government schools do.

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  • M1EK||

    Preemptive strike: what percentage of the poor in these countries get any schooling at all?

    If private schooling results in slightly better education for 10% of the population at the expense of no education at all for another 10% of the population, are we better off?

  • ||

    m1ek, how is it at "the expensive of"

  • ||

    pre-emptive strike for M1EK:

    What percentage of U.S. students can't read or write despite going through 12 years of mandated schooling? Are they better off than they would have been otherwise? Was it a good use of resources to spend 12 years on these kids when there are other kids who could benefit more from these resources? Such as kids in the same poor district, but who want to learn, but get held back because the learning environment must be slowed to attend to those who have no desire to learn?

  • ||

    M1EK-

    Somehow I really doubt that the poor spending money on their own children's education is really taking any money away fron anyone else's children's education. The point you're trying to imply might be valid in a rich country with regards to vouchers, but I can't see how poor people who are probably paying little or no taxes to begin with can really be causing anyone else to miss out an education.

    I imagine a lot of these private schools are in countries with government is so incompetent and corrupt that they couldn't deliver any kind of education to the lower class even with a determined bleeding heart like you at the helm.

  • ||

    "I imagine a lot of these private schools are in countries with government is so incompetent and corrupt that they couldn't deliver any kind of education to the lower class even with a determined bleeding heart like you at the helm."

    You're speaking of the US right?

  • M1EK||

    Answering all at once:

    In libertopia, there would be no public schools, as I often hear. So, when comparing libertopia to statisttopia, it becomes relevant to wonder what percentage of the population would actually get education in libertopia.

    As for the US supposedly not educating a large chunk of public school grads, I haven't seen it. Trashing public schools is an enjoyable pursuit for y'all, but give me a freakin' break. Even the schools in the poorest parts of my district provide a basic education to those who are willing to be educated.

    Note the distinction between "educate those who are willing to be educated" and "educate those whose parents can afford to pay for them to be educated" or "educate those whose parents are willing to send them to school". In libertopia, of course, only the middle group gets educted. (Even some of those who could afford it would keep their kids home to work the family farm, for instance).

  • ||

    Note the distinction between "educate those who are willing to be educated" and "educate those whose parents can afford to pay for them to be educated" or "educate those whose parents are willing to send them to school". In libertopia, of course, only the middle group gets educted.

    Why "of course?" Is it somehow a given that there would be no scholarships offered or awarded, no charitable education operations, etc.? I'm not quite ready to jump on a "no publick schools evar!1!!" bandwagon, but that's an awfully confident "of course" without some deeper thought to back it up.

    Even the schools in the poorest parts of my district provide a basic education to those who are willing to be educated.

    Part of the problem is that they should be able to categorically excluse those who aren't willing, as they just disrupt and slow down the process for the others.

    (Even some of those who could afford it would keep their kids home to work the family farm, for instance).

    And?

  • nmg||

    "As for the US supposedly not educating a large chunk of public school grads, I haven't seen it. "

    I assume you don't live in California.

    "Note the distinction between "educate those who are willing to be educated" and "educate those whose parents can afford to pay for them to be educated" or "educate those whose parents are willing to send them to school"."

    Not true. Even today we have many private organizations that provide education to underprivileged families who want it.

    nmg

  • ||

    I thought this was a story about how some clever entrepreneurs had managed to make some money by teaching poor kids in really bad environments. And, as a result of their efforts, the children get a better education that what was on offer, evidently at a price their parents can afford. Which sounds pretty wonderful to me.

    I had no idea they were denying education to another segment of the population all along.

  • ||

    M1EK,
    Define "education," then tell us what it's good for.

  • nmg||

    For the statist central-planners, the concern isn't really about the children who might not get educated. The concern is that there are children being educated by schools that are *not under control of the state* This is a frightening prospect for them, so they hide behind their concern for educating kids, when really they are concerned about *indoctrinating* kids.

    Some of them even come out and admit this much. Ask them why they are opposed to vouchers being used by parents to send their kids to religious schools, and invariably their answer has nothing to do with education and everything to do with state-administered indoctrination of children.

    nmg

  • M1EK||

    "Why "of course?" Is it somehow a given that there would be no scholarships offered or awarded, no charitable education operations, etc.?"

    No, but it's a given that such scholarships and charity won't come close to ensuring that ALL kids who want to be educated will be given the chance.

    "I assume you don't live in California."

    Give me a break. I live in Texas, which by any objective measure has worse schools than California, and it's still not as bad as you doom-and-gloomers say.

    "(Even some of those who could afford it would keep their kids home to work the family farm, for instance).

    And?"

    And that's bad. Kids who don't get educated because their parents don't want them to are much more likely to end up supported by the state in one way or another.

    "I had no idea they were denying education to another segment of the population all along."

    Oh, come the fuck on. It's clearly the undercurrent - "look, private schools are educating the poor, so we don't need public schools!"

    "For the statist central-planners, the concern isn't really about the children who might not get educated. The concern is that there are children being educated by schools that are *not under control of the state*"

    nmg, you're going to get some nasty strawburns.

  • MP||

    Ask them why they are opposed to vouchers being used by parents to send their kids to religious schools, and invariably their answer has nothing to do with education and everything to do with state-administered indoctrination of children.

    No. They are concerned that vouchers will divert both money and easy to educate children from the public school system, leaving them with less resources per child to educate the hardest cases. The greatest concerns deal with disabled/handicapped children and children of parents who don't really care about their child's education.

    Don't mistake me as a defender of public schools. But your claims are way off base.

  • nmg||

    I knew it.

    nmg

  • nmg||

    " It's clearly the undercurrent - "look, private schools are educating the poor, so we don't need public schools!""

    Well.... it appears to be the case doesn't it? In these environments even the poorest families are getting their children educated at *for profit* schools amidst squalor and poverty. That is indeed a pretty compelling argument that we dont' actually *need* public schools.

    Note that there is also a difference between public schooling and publicly funded education, and wholly privatized...

    Of the three, public schooling is by far the worst option.

    nmg

  • ||

    "Why "of course?" Is it somehow a given that there would be no scholarships offered or awarded, no charitable education operations, etc.?"

    No, but it's a given that such scholarships and charity won't come close to ensuring that ALL kids who want to be educated will be given the chance.

    Right. I didn't claim that it would. I was questioning your premise that the ONLY group that would be educated would "of course" be "those whose parents can afford to pay for them to be educated." You're conceding, then, that that wouldn't be the case?

    Kids who don't get educated because their parents don't want them to are much more likely to end up supported by the state in one way or anothe

    Fair enough.

  • M1EK||

    "Right. I didn't claim that it would. I was questioning your premise that the ONLY group that would be educated would "of course" be "those whose parents can afford to pay for them to be educated." You're conceding, then, that that wouldn't be the case?"

    True. Some small percentage of those whose parents can't afford it will get scholarships. This subset, when applied to the entire population, is likely to be negligible.

  • M1EK||

    "In these environments even the poorest families are getting their children educated at *for profit* schools amidst squalor and poverty."

    No, what it shows is that SOME poor people are getting their children educated. SOME.

    SOME can mean MANY; it can mean FEW. I bet in these cases it's FEW.

    Of course, many of those private schools in places like Pakistan come in the form of madrassas. YAY!

  • nmg||

    MP, in my experience, the opposition to vouchers is usually articulated as a fear of some kids getting religiously indoctrinated in cloistered religious schools away from the influence of the "mainstream".

    I have heard those who voice concerns that vouchers will divert money from the system and make it harder to educate those left behind, but this is a specious objection considering what a failure the schools are now. Diverting resources can't make them worse since they are as bad as they can possibly be.

    M1Ek is delusional. The schools in urban zones are absolutely atrocious. I'm personally dealing with it now myself regarding my own kids.

    nmg

  • ||

    True. Some small percentage of those whose parents can't afford it will get scholarships. This subset, when applied to the entire population, is likely to be negligible.

    Again, I made no claim otherwise.

  • M1EK||

    "M1Ek is delusional. The schools in urban zones are absolutely atrocious. I'm personally dealing with it now myself regarding my own kids."

    I'd be more likely to believe you if I hadn't sat through a dinner with a couple who were homeschooling their daughter (middle school) and about to send her to a $25/k year high school because the schools in Round Rock were supposedly atrocious (i.e., the suburb everybody moves to because they say the schools in Austin are atrocious). They went on to claim that EVEN IN THE AP CLASSES, teachers went no further than teaching to the state BASIC PROFICIENCY TEST.

    Every other person at the table (I knew everybody except this couple quite well) looked at each other and didn't know what to say. This was a group of 10 20-and-30 somethings, all of whom moved here to Austin with IBM (i.e., we're all high-tech) who went to school at all sorts of different places all around the country (urban, rural, suburban) - but one thing in common:

    WE ALL WENT TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

    Sorry, at that point, I finally got it. Some folks, including many here, will NEVER view public schools as acceptable. NEVER.

  • ||

    I never fail to be amazed that every time this subject comes up around here, the majority of posters advocate throwing out the current system (which has troubles, but is far from "as bad as [it] can possibly be") and replacing it with one that is untested at the national level, merely on account of ideological purity. If you guys want to turn the US into a banana republic, go ahead. I want no part of it.

  • ||

    M1EK,
    I am willing to admit that some public schools are acceptable. I recently bought a new home specifically so that my daughter could attend one that I feel is acceptable.
    However, I can't think of any schools in poor neighborhoods that I would consider acceptable.

  • nmg||

    M1Ek, Ap classes? I'm talking about elementary schools with security guards and that can't pass more than 20% of the students on the state exams, which are pathetically easy to begin with. Your out of touch suburbanite friends who are unhappy with the challenge level of the AP classes DO NOT prove that public schools are just fine.

    Public schools in urban areas should be scrapped. Nothing could be worse than the system we have now.

    nmg

  • ||

    I can't think of any schools in poor neighborhoods that I would consider acceptable

    Gee, my high school was in a poor neighborhood, yet it is consistently ranked among the top high schools in the country. Go figure.

  • ||

    "Kids who don't get educated because their parents don't want them to (or just don't care)are much more likely to end up supported by the state in one way or another"

    This class currently make up what I would consider to be a good portion of public school students. I fail to see how their lot would be different if compulsory public schooling was abolished.

  • M1EK||

    "However, I can't think of any schools in poor neighborhoods that I would consider acceptable."

    And yet poor students get educated and many of them get into college.

    And those students are getting an education, IF THEY WANT ONE, which would be the envy of the large subset of poor people in those other countries who can't pay the private school tuition and can't get somebody to take them in as a charity case.

    Oh, except for the Saudis. They love paying for other peoples' educations. An excellent role model for libertopia, methinks.

  • MP||

    Some folks, including many here, will NEVER view public schools as acceptable.

    Maybe...but the biggest gripe I have against the public school system is that the mechanisms for correcting failures within the system suck. When a private school sucks, it goes out of business. When a public school sucks, it gets more money. This is not an indictment of public schools in general. It is an indictment of the mechanisms that correct failures within a public school.

    A Friedman system of vouchers (which I strongly support) does not entail the closure of public schools, but simply introduces choice as a corrective mechanism for alleviating the failures that can occur within the public school system.

  • M1EK||

    "This class currently make up what I would consider to be a good portion of public school students. I fail to see how their lot would be different if compulsory public schooling was abolished."

    I don't care about those who don't want to be there. (Note: I don't think you can make this determination until high school, with a few outliers in middle school; I'm not advocating letting 6-year-olds decide to drop out here, and most would say our school 'problems' are concentrated in middle and high schools anyways).

    I care about those who want to be there, but don't have the money to pay the tuition bills in Libertopia, and, personally, I would rather they not get their education at Wahabbi R Us.

  • ||

    When a public school sucks, it gets more money. This is not an indictment of public schools in general.

    Yet it is for most of the posters here. Apparently, if something doesn't work to 100% satisfaction, it should thrown out and reworked. A very American solution, that is.

  • M1EK||

    nmg,

    "M1Ek, Ap classes? I'm talking about elementary schools with security guards and that can't pass more than 20% of the students on the state exams, which are pathetically easy to begin with. Your out of touch suburbanite friends who are unhappy with the challenge level of the AP classes DO NOT prove that public schools are just fine."

    I use them as an example of how many people will NEVER view public schools as acceptable. You, for instance, are focusing on a tiny number of schools and damning the whole system - yet EVEN AT THOSE SCHOOLS, a good chunk of students are getting educated who would not have in libertopia.

    And those who say that private schools that suck get closed - true. They 'suck' because people don't want to pay the bills. This does not mean the education was any good. The madrassas in Pakistan aren't going to close, because the Saudis are very happy with the 'education' they're funding. How charitable of them.

  • nmg||

    "I would rather they not get their education at Wahabbi R Us."

    As I said before, this always comes up. The concern over which flavor of indoctrination the kids are getting rather than the quality of the education.

    nmg

  • nmg||

    "yet EVEN AT THOSE SCHOOLS, a good chunk of students are getting educated who would not have in libertopia."

    You don't know this. That 20% of kids who pass the minimum standards (which are laughably low by the way) may very well have been educated in "libertopia", and it's likely in fact, considering the drive and determination it takes to succeed in the environment they are currently *coerced* into.

    The answer to make everyone happy is public funding without public schooling. Give everyone the opportunity to get educated but don't coerce them with a monopoly on public education like we do now.

    It's funny how the leftwingers all love to rail against big business monopolies, and rightly so, for when they take advantage of consumers and abuse them, but they never question the ill effects of enforcing a state-run monopoloy on something like education. No accountability and no competition leads to nothing but terrible service and lousy product. And that's what we have now.

    The answer is vouchers.

    nmg

  • ||

    In Oak Park, Illinois where I be mad near, the village council rejected a proposal for a for-profit college to move into the top floor of a building on Lake Street (main downtown street) that had gone unoccupied for years because the way it was set up made it impractical for offices or retail. I think the vote was 3-3 and the ones who voted against it said it was not the kind of business that Oak Park should have. Being born in this town, you wonder why Hemmingway didn't shoot himself earlier in his life.

  • ||

    I agree nmg, vouchers are the answer. Let the parents decide what school will be best for their children.

    Public schools that are doing a good job will continue to receive support (for instance, I live near Naperville Illinois, which has fantastic public schools). The poor performers will be forced to improve or wither on the vine. Children currently trapped in poor performers will be given a choice (something they currently lack) to go elsewhere.

    How are using vouchers to send your kid to the school of your choice (which presumably would still have to meet state and federal guidelines as to subjects taught) equivalent to sending your kid to a madrassas?

    Finally, let me relate this Public School horror story. My sister-in-law student taught in the Boston Public schools. She taught 5 freshman algebra classes. She found out that none of the kids could compute a 10% tip (i.e. decimal multiplication). She tried to provide remidial education to these kids but was overruled by her supervisor. She was told to "work around their limitations" because the remidial education would take up too much time and throw off the schedule.

    Yeah, I'm sure the Boston Public schools can be improved if we only taxed the rich more.

  • MP||

    which presumably would still have to meet state and federal guidelines as to subjects taught

    Well, there is the rub of vouchers. When does state "standards" become state control? I have no pat answer to that question. But the Federal government should have no say in setting standards. Ever.

  • ||

    M1ke wrote- "I don't care about those who don't want to be there. (Note: I don't think you can make this determination until high school, with a few outliers in middle school; ...I care about those who want to be there, but don't have the money to pay the tuition bills in Libertopia..."

    If you don't care about the students who don't want to be in public school, why permit public schools force them to be there? If you do care about the kids who want an education, why force them to sit in class with people who don't want to be there and will sabotage the education?

    If people who are actively or passively resisting public education are kicked out the classroom, or just allowed to walk out, the classroom would improve.

  • ||

    Our public schools doing an adequate job educating our children, In some cases yes in some cases no and in some cases maybe. But since the news stories all seem to be that kids can't pass comprehensive exams in English and Math that are written at an absurdly low level, I think evidence will suggest that schools are not doing all they can and we as tax payers are not getting or moneys worth. Since it seems impossible to even shame politcians into action to make changes at a local level, to ensure that kids can read and write, we should be exploring ways to shake up the system. By and large the best schools are the schools that have the greatest PARENTAL involvement. Now since things I actively pay for (say like school which for my 4 kids is costing me 6500 over my taxes because my public schools are not so good), I tend to pay attention. For most people this is the case. Maybe a voucher system where you recieved a set amt per kid to apply for your education would work because it may force more parents to take an active role in thier childs education, it will force schools to compete (oh that nasty word again) for students. Some parents will obviously not care and they will be in the same state as now, receiving a substandard education. But some parents will care and their kids will receive a better education. Which is an improvement no?

  • ||

    In libertopia, there would be no public schools, as I often hear. So, when comparing libertopia to statisttopia, it becomes relevant to wonder what percentage of the population would actually get education in libertopia....Even the schools in the poorest parts of my district provide a basic education to those who are willing to be educated....Note the distinction between "educate those who are willing to be educated" and "educate those whose parents can afford to pay for them to be educated" or "educate those whose parents are willing to send them to school". In libertopia, of course, only the middle group gets educted. (Even some of those who could afford it would keep their kids home to work the family farm, for instance).

    Damn, you managed an argument. I feel vaguely obligated to answer.

    It'd be nice to know what you meant by statistopia in comparing it to your take on libertopia. If in statistopia the only issue is whether the students want to be educated, that would suggest that they don't have to worry about the "educate those whose parents are willing to send them to school" issue. Does that mean all students must go to government schools and private education is banned? If not, how does private education fit in?

    Of course, you could say that the public schools are soooo wonderful in statistopia that no one would ever want to bother with private school. On the other hand, I could say that in libertopia, charitable groups are happy to throw enough money at secular private schools that everyone who wants an education can get one, even if they can't afford it. But then, that's what happens when you compare utopias - you get nowhere.

  • ||

    Rhywun - You said "the majority of posters advocate throwing out the current system and replacing it with one that is untested at the national level" and I'm honestly not sure what you mean. "Untested at the national level"? Schooling doesn't take place at the national level; it's not like national defense, a good which you can't provide to some and deny to others (sorry, I forget the technical term for that). And while we've had public/state education for a long time, we've also had plenty of experience with leaving other "critical" services to the free market, and we've had, generally speaking, far fewer problems there.

    I think welfare is an interesting counter-example. As many problems as the US has had with poverty - even with people who supposedly can't afford enough to eat on their own - the response of government, at any level, has never been to open huge state-run cafeterias where anyone and everyone can eat for free. We have food stamps, but that resembles vouchers for education more than it does public schools...actually, the more I think about the two cases, the more interesting I think the comparison is.

  • ||

    And yet, you attempted the Limbaugh route. Friends with Eric the .5b, are you?

    M1EK PWNAGE in 5...4...3...

  • ||

    Here in Carpentersville, IL, we spend over $9000 per student in K-6. Assuming 25 pupils per classroom, that's $225,000 per classroom for 8 months of instruction.

    If somebody in favor of public schools could post a hypothetical breakdown of where that money goes that does not involve huge waste and fraud, I'd like to see it.

    Beyond that, how come a workable public school system cannot permit any competition or accountability?

  • ||

    When I read Jesse's post, my first thought was, "Well, thank God that in developed countries like the USA, the children of the poor are 'protected' from receiving an education from these unaccredited street teachers." I don't think M1EK has much to worry about.

    I would like to mention a couple other things, though.

    Here's my anecdote about homeschooling. The first (and as far a I know, the only) home-schooler I ever met was in the early 1990s. She was not a religious person concerned about her kids learning sekular hoomanism or "evilution" -- she was a teacher at a public school in Lodi, California, and she was appalled by the system. The racism (no white kids allowed in the special celebration for Martin Luther King day, with two kids as self-appointed but implicitly condoned enforcers stationed at the entrance to the auditorium to check the skin color of the students as they entered -- they wouldn't let a mixed-race kid in). No way to reward the good teachers, no way to get rid of the incompetent teachers (of which there was an abundance). She decided her two kids couldn't get a decent education in the local system, so she decided to teach them herself.

    (I also remember reading an interesting statistic somewhere, about the high percentage of public school teachers who choose to send their kids to private schools. Rather indicative. If I have time, I'll try to look it up.)

    Finally, on the assumption that only a minority of kids would get an education in "Libertopia," I am reminded of a REASON interview with Dave Barry, who summed it up nicely. He referred to it as "the sex with dogs" argument: This is the assumption that if you give people the freedom to act responsibly or not, of course most of them will simply abandon their responsibilities and use that freedom to act as outrageously as possible.
    ---------------

    Barry: [Libertarianism is] ... a more complex political discussion than most people are used to, to explain why you think the way you do about public education or drug laws, and why it's not as simple as being for or against something.

    Reason: Did you get any mail about being a libertarian after that article?

    Barry: I got a few letters, mostly pretty nice. One or two letters saying, "Here's why it wouldn't work to be a libertarian, because people will have sex with dogs." Arguments like, "Nobody would educate the kids." People say, "Of course you have to have public education because otherwise nobody would send their kids to school." And you'd have to say, "Would you not send your kids to school? Would you not educate them?" "Well, no. I would. But all those other people would be having sex with dogs."

    Source: http://reason.com/barry.shtml

  • ||

    I have no problem with public schools in general. I want to like the idea of vouchers, but I have many questions to which I have never received satisfactory answers.

    Since a large segment of public school funding comes from property taxes and sales taxes, which the school inheriting the voucher holding student will not be receiving from this student's family, it would take a rediculously large voucher to even attend a school of dubious caliber without posing a drain on the new institution.

    How is the new school supposed to sustain this influx without the incoming student being given an incredibly large voucher?

    (one of the poorest performing districts in my area posted a total expenditure/pupil amount of $11,014)

  • Dan||

    So it appears that Reason�s devotion to libertarian dogma has finally caused it to jump the shark.

    We are now being told that the United States, whose public school system has helped create the richest society in world history, should dump its very successful model in order to emulate what�s going on in the slums of third-world counties.

    It�s too much, folks. Really, does anybody here stop and think about this?

  • ||

    Man, M1EK is a hoot in these school threads. Dollars to donuts some frosty private school girl/guy turned M1EK down for a date years ago because M1EK was "too common."

    :)

  • ||

    One other comment - I'm glad to see this topic approached from the perspective of "third world" countries. Too often political arguments, at least in this country, take the tacit assumption that the government is at least minimally democratic, responsive, honest, and competent, which it usually is in the US. But in much if not most of the world, government isn't all those things, and it often isn't any of them. Given that, isn't it criminally cruel to demand that the education of children be handed over to it?

    People who argue for the primacy of state-run education often seem to make the tacit assumption that it just will be good, or that forcing everyone into state schools will somehow make them good. (This is the 'Ted Rall' argument: If we make government the only provider of good or service X, then it will have to be good, right?) Wanting good government is great, but it shouldn't be confused with handing stuff over to the government prior to it being good.

  • ||

    I think what the article proves is that low-cost, effective private schooling is possible in even the poorest areas as long as the government doesn't stop it from happening (even if only because the government is totally inept). We don't have to abolish public schools, and I'm not convinced that we should. We have to reduce the barriers of entry for private schools, so that ultimately the parents and children decide what the best option is for themselves.

    Vouchers are one attempt to do that, but it takes place at the wrong, ie consumer, level. Honestly, the shit you have to go through to open up any business can be retarded, but to open a school is about 1000x worse. As far as I'm concerned, the government can mandate education all it wants, but it needs to get out of the way of those who would open a low-cost, private school. Private schools don't have to be as expensive as they are to open and maintain. The reason they cost so much for the families is largely a function of government overregulation and not inherent to a private school system.

    Maybe that turns into "libertopia" or maybe public schools will always be necessary at some level, but at least it's a choice for parents and children.

  • ||

    Ummmmm......what he (Stretch) said.

  • ||

    Sorry if that wasn't clear. What I was trying to say is that what Stretch said seems to succinctly cover the issue.

  • M1EK||

    "Man, M1EK is a hoot in these school threads. Dollars to donuts some frosty private school girl/guy turned M1EK down for a date years ago because M1EK was "too common.""

    Oddly enough, I can't remember ever meeting anybody who went to private school. Seriously. (Other than the girl with the parents I mentioned earlier in the thread, of course).

    The fact that everybody I've met in high tech went to public school is in and of itself a fairly strong (anectodal) piece of evidence that they can't be as bad as some people claim. Or, alternatively, private schools don't seem to be producing people who know how to do math and science. You pick.

  • ||

    Eric,
    Don't use the S word around M1EK, it makes him angry.

  • M1EK||

    "Here in Carpentersville, IL, we spend over $9000 per student in K-6. Assuming 25 pupils per classroom, that's $225,000 per classroom for 8 months of instruction.

    If somebody in favor of public schools could post a hypothetical breakdown of where that money goes that does not involve huge waste and fraud, I'd like to see it."

    1. Special ed students cost vs. regular student cost.

    2. Teacher salary + benefits

    3. Other subject teacher salary + benefits (music teacher? art teacher?)

    4. Building capital costs (library, computers, even if others covered by bonds)

    5. Building operating costs (electricity? water? janitors? heat? security?)

    6. Overhead employees (administration).

    I have no problem positing little waste given your numbers and the above.

    "Beyond that, how come a workable public school system cannot permit any competition or accountability?""

    How come a workable police force cannot permit any competition or accountability?

    How come a workable water utility cannot permit any competition or accountability?

  • ||

    The fact that everybody I've met in high tech went to public school is in and of itself a fairly strong (anectodal) piece of evidence that they can't be as bad as some people claim.

    Depends on how you weight "everyone M1EK worked with in his industry went to public schools and did alright" versus "everyone in the United States who finds his/her local public school inadequate".

  • ||

    As a public service, I have placed the dubious assertions in the following post in bold:

    So it appears that Reason?s devotion to libertarian dogma has finally caused it to jump the shark.

    We are now being told that the United States, whose public school system has helped create the richest society in world history, should dump its very successful model in order to emulate what's going on in the slums of third-world counties.

    It?s too much, folks. Really, does anybody here stop and think about this?

    Also, as an exercise if you're left of center, you can also replace "public school system" with "tradition of widespread gun ownership," and replace "the slums of third-world count[r]ies" with "historically dictator-plagued Europe" to see if it makes it easier for you to spot the logical fallacy therein.

  • ||

    "We are now being told that the United States, whose public school system has helped create the richest society in world history, should dump its very successful model in order to emulate what�s going on in the slums of third-world counties."

    This, of course is incomplete. The U.S. has generated its wealth in spite of a poor primary and secondary educational system.

    The U.S. has generated its wealth in part because of a fantastic post-secondary educational system, as well as the usual suspects (rule of law, respect for individual rights, culture of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, etc)

    The differences between strictly state-run (U.S. context- local school district) local primary and secondary schools and mixed private-and-publicly run Colleges and Universities are astounding. If the definition of educational success is the generation of wealth, then the meritocracy, desire, and frank elitism of Universities who can pick-and-choose students is clearly the winner over the egalitarian and coddling local school.

    -Natebrau

  • ||

    M1EK

    Who's the chairman of IBM again?

  • M1EK||

    "How are using vouchers to send your kid to the school of your choice (which presumably would still have to meet state and federal guidelines as to subjects taught) equivalent to sending your kid to a madrassas?"

    If you can come up with a voucher system where you can guarantee that each and every student's voucher will be enough $$$ to get them into a secular private school, I'll gladly support it.

    Otherwise, you're relying on some amount of 'charity', usually from religious groups. Hence, the madrassas.

  • ||

    AND those whose parents COULDN'T AFFORD to PAY to send them to school.

    I think there's more of the latter than the former by a long shot.


    I don't disagree. However, as stated above I believe the cost of private school is greatly inflated due to government regulation, and the vast majority of that regulation has zero to do with educational standards.

  • ||

    I think you have to separate the effects of immediately cancelling public school for everyone, from the argument about whether or not private schools would work better. There are more people who would support a libertarian position of moving away from public schools, and support doing it gradually through vouchers, etc. than there are libertarians.

    In order that I may understand any responses to my posts, I humbly asks that anyone responding angrily type PARTS of their POSTS in CAPS.

  • ||

    That said, how are the private schools mentioned in the article keeping poorer students from their public education?

  • M1EK||

    "This, of course is incomplete. The U.S. has generated its wealth in spite of a poor primary and secondary educational system."

    The theory that the US has a 'poor' primary and secondary educational system is relatively new. Until a few decades ago, most of the rest of the world used us as their example to which to aspire. Since then some have surpassed us, but that's not due to the model being faulty, since none of those countries have gone to a private libertopian model either.

  • ||

    "Beyond that, how come a workable public school system cannot permit any competition or accountability?""

    How come a workable police force cannot permit any competition or accountability?

    How come a workable water utility cannot permit any competition or accountability?

    Just checking...We know that's not anything like an answer - you do to, right? Or are you suggesting the banning of bottled water and private well-digging services?

  • M1EK||

    "That said, how are the private schools mentioned in the article keeping poorer students from their public education?"

    They aren't - their success in educating some small percentage of 'the poor' is being used as a club by which to beat people over the head with the claim that public schooling isn't necessary.

    That reasoning is faulty enough to drive a big statist truck through, but of course, nobody in libertopia cares if poor folks don't get educated. They should have chose them some better parents.

  • Larry A||

    <rant>

    I live in a rural Texas small town with a highly-rated school system. Everything works great, as long as the student fits the mold.

    My first daughter sailed through the AP classes with a 4.0, because when you present a subject to her by:

    1. Giving her a textbook that covers the general principles.
    2. Reinforce that with general illustrations.
    3. Establish specific theories.
    4. Illustrate them with specific examples.
    5. Evaluate frequently with true/false multiple choice tests.
    6. Review the material presented in a chronological manner.
    7. Administer a final comprehensive examination.

    She gets it.

    Number two daughter simply did not learn that way. She learned by getting her hands dirty and proceeding from specific examples to general knowledge. She needs to climb a tree to understand a forest.

    When she started getting in trouble grade and attendance-wise we tried to get more involved. The school administration's attitude was, "Your daughter's education is our job. F off."

    Eventually, without our input, they diverted her into an unsupervised "self-study" program, the exact opposite of what she needed.

    She finally figured that out, and tried to get back in mainstream. She offered to make up all the classes she had completed at the "alternative." The answer was, "No. It's one way. Attend one alternative class and you can never graduate with the regular students."

    If they did it that way, you see, she didn't count on their statistics as a dropout.

    She finally got her GED, passing it handily. But I doubt she will ever be able to succeed in a classroom again.

    Back awhile when I needed work I substitute taught. I still remember that you can walk down the English or science or math hall, and every class will be studying the same subject out of the same book in the same manner, and usually almost on the same page.

    </rant>

    M1EK: As for the US supposedly not educating a large chunk of public school grads, I haven't seen it.

    Have you been on the Internet lately? Shoot, this blog is one of the more literate and there's plenty of blue-pencil work in any thread. And we'd probably agree that a couple of the posters here qualify as uneducated. Although we might not be thinking of the same ones. ;-)

  • ||

    "If you can come up with a voucher system where you can guarantee that each and every student's voucher will be enough $$$ to get them into a secular private school, I'll gladly support it."

    Bah, the guarantee canard. The important question is whether more people will have more opportunity. The guarantee offered by the current public school system is the guarantee of a bandaid on the pretense that it is brain surgery.

  • ||

    "So what's the reason for public schools as the preferred venue for education? Is it just inertia?"

    You already pay for them, so you might as well use them.

  • dhex||

    "The fact that everybody I've met in high tech went to public school is in and of itself a fairly strong (anectodal) piece of evidence that they can't be as bad as some people claim."

    you seriously can't be claiming that this is some sort of test for anything other than the people you know?

    i went to a public school. it wasn't horrible, school-wise (it was a waste of time like all high schools, but that's more of a human socialization thing than anything else). but mine mostly turned out fuckwits, teenage parents, etc.

    which means public schools are neither good nor bad because we have two bodies of anecdotal evidence completely at odds with one another.

  • ||

    They aren't - their success in educating some small percentage of 'the poor' is being used as a club by which to beat people over the head with the claim that public schooling isn't necessary.

    Does it say that in the article? I must have missed it. Could you copy and paste that part?

    To me it seemed to say that private schools are almost always superior to public ones and that parents deserve more choice for their tax dollars. That doesn't mean that public schools shouldn't exist, but rather that they should learn how to teach better and waste less money.

    It's funny how some folks react to criticism of public schools the way other folks react to criticism of the military. The military is, in my opinion, also corrupt and inept, but that doesn't mean I want to get rid of it.

  • ||

    Having had a completely private (Catholic) education from beginning to end, I can say that the quality is a mixed bag.

    My local school district puts out a mix of worker bees, dropouts and university-bound folks. Go figure. In the US, a good education is there for the taking. The student just has to be motivated to take it.

    The problem of poor performing schools isn't necessarily one that can be fixed by adding money. I tend to think it's a problem of leading a horse to water, but being unable to make him drink. Isn't this really a problem of chronic poor/underachievers who won't perform for whatever reason, despair, stupidity, anger, mistrust, etc?

    In the end, despite all the hand wringing, I wonder if the "problem" of public education is a real problam at all. As pointed out, the US is a tremedously successful economy overall. And some of the smartest folks around endorse the worst public decisionmakers of all.

  • ||

    "The theory that the US has a 'poor' primary and secondary educational system is relatively new. "

    This isn't strictly true. My great-aunt wrote what used to be the standard high school Spanish textbook used in California. Of course, she also taught. And 100 years ago, the definition of what primary and secondary school education was was inordinately different from what it is today. Meaning, the "three R's" were what you learned 100 years ago, while today you're expected to be taught math through calculus, a foreign language, advanced literature, etc. if you're on the "college track" at a public high school.

    A good qestion is, are the "three R's" well taught today, and is this sufficient goal for U.S. primary and secondary schools to aspire to?

    Because if so, then making public schools better is a needless diversion and waste of time.

    Personally, I think that standards and expectations for schools in general have increased consistently with the Flynn effect, and the major reason for disappointment with public schools in particular is how slowly they adapt and change- by today's standards they're bad, while by yesterday's standards they were fine. It's very instructive to compare this with private schools, which have changed and adapted substantially quicker.

  • ||

    I live in a rural Texas small town with a highly-rated school system. Everything works great, as long as the student fits the mold.

    Welcome to the world. As long as he fits the mold, a complete moron can go on to be president.

    Those who can't, or won't, fit the mold in life will have to make due anyway.

  • ||

    Oddly enough, I can't remember ever meeting anybody who went to private school. Seriously. (Other than the girl with the parents I mentioned earlier in the thread, of course).

    You're constantly saying the products of public schools are just fine, with admittedly no private school folks in your sphere for comparison.

  • ||

    . . . but of course, nobody in libertopia cares if poor folks don't get educated.

    Wow, you went from getting disabused of that "of course" bullshit to falling right back on it as a legitimate argument pretty fast. Want to try again?

  • Jeff P.||

    What the hell's an "autorickshaw?"

  • ||

    JeffP:

    It is a 3 wheeled golf cart thingie with a lawnmower engine. In Bangkok, they call them "Duk Duks" because that is what they sound like.

  • ||

    Whereas what I took from the article was, when the government doesn't provide/interfere the market will drive prices down of pivate schooling to the point that poor individuals desiring the service will be able to afford it. I find that to be one of the problems with the current system, theres absolutely no incentive for schools to develope more cost effective procedures for education. Of course, a little friendly competition could do wonders. Unfortunately people are terribly affraid to allow their schools to be tested in that arena. Maybe their afraid the market will tell them how much their education is actually worth.

  • ||

    Speaking of not learning the 3 R's. Check out my sweet post above.

  • Jeff P.||

    Jason: Got it. Thanks. From the name a pictured some weird vehicle that involved you somehow pulling yourself.

  • ||

    "Or are you suggesting the banning of bottled water and private well-digging services?"

    Where do I pick up my voucher for bottled water? And when the vendor cashes it in, does he get paid out of the fund set up to operate and maintain the public water system?

  • ||

    Where do I pick up my voucher for bottled water? And when the vendor cashes it in, does he get paid out of the fund set up to operate and maintain the public water system?

    Nice misdirection.

  • ||

    Where do I pick up my voucher for bottled water? And when the vendor cashes it in, does he get paid out of the fund set up to operate and maintain the public water system?

    Well, said. But, I pay a water bill, and if I were to bathe in Avian (who know's why) I wouldn't be paying the utility for that shower, would I? Like a voucher, my kid isn't using that school, therefore I don't pay for that use.

  • ||

    Perhaps we can agree that general statements about public schools (or private), even if accurate, will not apply in every particular. Thus:
    Schools in poor, urban areas tend to not be as good as those in rich areas.
    However,
    There are some very good schools in poor areas.
    And vice-versa.

  • M1EK||

    Or an easier example:

    When I go to the bookstore and buy a bunch of books for my private library, do I get a refund for the taxes I paid to support the public library?

    And one that the halfwit chose to ignore:

    If I hire a bodyguard, do I get a refund on my taxes paid to support the public police or the public military?

  • ||

    Like a voucher, my kid isn't using that school, therefore I don't pay for that use.

    I think that needs restated, otherwise anyone without a child in public school should get a credit on their taxes, and then you collapse the public school system.

    And I'm sure none of us want that.

  • M1EK||

    "Whereas what I took from the article was, when the government doesn't provide/interfere the market will drive prices down of pivate schooling to the point that poor individuals desiring the service will be able to afford it."

    The article didn't say that at all. It didn't say that even MOST poor people were able to afford these private schools; it went at it from the other angle and said "these private schools are able to make money from educating some poor people".

  • M1EK||

    "Oddly enough, I can't remember ever meeting anybody who went to private school. Seriously. (Other than the girl with the parents I mentioned earlier in the thread, of course).

    You're constantly saying the products of public schools are just fine, with admittedly no private school folks in your sphere for comparison."

    A. No private school representation (that I know of, so far) among the large circle of high-tech folks I know.

    B. Public school representation from all over the damn country, all over the socioeconomic scale.

    leads me to this anectdote:

    Public school is unlikely to be as bad as you reactionaries claim it is.

  • ||

    Captain Awesome,

    Both a water system and a school system have a high level of set costs, before a particular "user" comes into play.

    You take 10% of the kids out of a school, it doesn't cost 10% less to heat. If you've got 3 biology teachers with 20 kids per class, reducing those classes to 18 each doesn't reduce their salaries by 10%.

    With water systems, it's even more pronounced, since almost all the costs are set costs.

  • M1EK||

    "Oddly enough, I can't remember ever meeting anybody who went to private school. Seriously. (Other than the girl with the parents I mentioned earlier in the thread, of course).

    You're constantly saying the products of public schools are just fine, with admittedly no private school folks in your sphere for comparison."

    A. No private school representation (that I know of, so far) among the large circle of high-tech folks I know.

    B. Public school representation from all over the damn country, all over the socioeconomic scale.

    leads me to this conclusion:

    Public school is unlikely to be as bad as you reactionaries claim it is.

  • ||

    "The theory that the US has a 'poor' primary and secondary educational system is relatively new. Until a few decades ago, most of the rest of the world used us as their example to which to aspire. Since then some have surpassed us, but that's not due to the model being faulty, since none of those countries have gone to a private libertopian model either."

    Really? Dutch kids have been going overwhelmingly (I think the current fraction is around 2/3 to 3/4.) to private schools since the early part of the last century and seem to be doing pretty well. They use some sort of voucher system. I don't advocate vouchers for the sole reason that in this country the state would end up running ALL schools that accepted vouchers. From my experience, though, the Dutch are a lot more willing to accept the personal choices of their neighbors and are less interested in the conformity that is a goal and by-product of public schooling.

  • Jesse Walker||

    leads me to this conclusion: Public school is unlikely to be as bad as you reactionaries claim it is.

    Or maybe it just isn't all that important. A terrible school, public or private, can really damage a kid, but a merely mediocre one can be survived.

  • MP||

    nsov,

    How is the new school supposed to sustain this influx without the incoming student being given an incredibly large voucher?

    An optimal voucher program is one which completely replaces the currently top-down funding arrangement. There would be no per-pupil funding shortage.

  • ||

    In addition to your excellent point, Jesse, I would add that the quest to somehow make stupid kids smart is doomed to fail no matter the quality of the school they attend. I'm sure at least a few people here would agree that President Bush makes a fine example.

  • ||

    Kent's point about the Dutch schools gets at one of the purposes of a public school system - to promote cultural cohesion and discourage the formation of mutually-hostile subcultures. The forging of a common identity.

    In short, why does Kent hate Theo Van Gogh? (I know, terribly unfair, but there's a point in here somewhere.)

  • ||

    It didn't say that even MOST poor people were able to afford these private schools; it went at it from the other angle and said "these private schools are able to make money from educating some poor people".

    "In each of the poor areas studied in detail, we�ve found that a large majority of the schools serving the poor are private, with either a large majority or a substantial minority of poor parents taking the private option."

    and

    "Second, and perhaps most important, a lesson we can learn from the poor in Asia and Africa is that not only can a majority of the poor that we�ve researched afford private education themselves, without state intervention, but it is precisely their payment of fees that appears to keep the schools accountable to them."

    It certainly seems that even if MOST poor people are not able to afford these schools, that a substantial portion of them can. The main thrust of the article is not simply that people are making money. That is only relevent to show that charity is not a necessary condition to provide private education to poor people as well as to drive the point home that private schools are more accountable that non-profit schools, a chief reason for their success. Again, even if only 25% of the poor can afford the low-cost private schools (which according to the article is not true), why should that rule them out as a piece of the solution?

  • fyodor||

    Both a water system and a school system have a high level of set costs, before a particular "user" comes into play.

    Economists call them "fixed" costs. I think "sunken" costs is sometimes used.

    Your example of building maintenance is a good one. There would have to be a signficant decrease in attendance before a school could move into a smaller building, and perhaps they could not get full value for their original building as it was built for their own purpose. But the teacher salary isn't so good, unless there's really only 18 students in that grade in the entire system. But multiply 18 by a mere 10 and you get 20 less then 20 by 10, ergo, there's a need for one less teacher.

  • ||

    No one wants to ban private schools, Stretch.

  • ||

    "You take 10% of the kids out of a school, it doesn't cost 10% less to heat. If you've got 3 biology teachers with 20 kids per class, reducing those classes to 18 each doesn't reduce their salaries by 10%."

    Come on now, that's just silly. A public school system with 10,000 students costs twice as much to heat as one with 5,000. Also 100 biology classes require fewer teachers than 120. We can never divert funds from the public school system because it's already been built? I guess that settles it.

  • ||

    fyodor,

    FIXED costs! Thank you.

    The algebra you mention would work if all of the teachers were all day/all subject teachers. But they're not. If you have 10% fewer students, firing one of your 3 bio teachers leaves you with 33% fewer biology teachers.

  • M1EK||

    "Again, even if only 25% of the poor can afford the low-cost private schools (which according to the article is not true), why should that rule them out as a piece of the solution?"

    Because the #1 solution pushed by the people here who breathlessly admire this article will involve eliminating public schools, which means the other 75% of the poor are SOL.

    The #2 solution pushed by those people is vouchers, which will destroy public education for the remaining M% as well, since the top N% are also the cheapest/easiest to educate.

    Neither solution proposes ANYTHING to handle the primary goal of public education - to attempt to educate ALL children, not just the ones who chose the right parents.

  • ||

    You take 10% of the kids out of a school, it doesn't cost 10% less to heat. If you've got 3 biology teachers with 20 kids per class, reducing those classes to 18 each doesn't reduce their salaries by 10%.

    So the public school argument is now that public schools don't have a mechanism for cost effectively dealing with a decrease in customers? I guess that would make sense, considering that ways of dealing with it in the past have mostly included mandating smaller class sizes.

  • M1EK||

    "Or maybe it just isn't all that important. A terrible school, public or private, can really damage a kid, but a merely mediocre one can be survived."

    That doesn't begin to explain the complete lack of private school grads in the hundreds of high-tech workers I know.

    Occam's Razor.

  • MP||

    one of the purposes of a public school system - to promote cultural cohesion and discourage the formation of mutually-hostile subcultures.

    Do you really believe that is a legitimate goal? If so, you just validated nmg's point.

  • MP||

    Economists call them "fixed" costs. I think "sunken" costs is sometimes used.

    Actually, it is simply "sunk".

  • M1EK||

    "Come on now, that's just silly. A public school system with 10,000 students costs twice as much to heat as one with 5,000."

    Dude. Seriously. Think before you post.

    A 10,000 student school is likely to have much less than twice as much space to heat as a 5,000 student school. Common areas don't scale up linearly.

  • fyodor||

    If you have 10% fewer students, firing one of your 3 bio teachers leaves you with 33% fewer biology teachers.

    Well first, that only applies to junior high and high school. Unless things have changed in the hundred or years since I attended, primary school teachers are all-subject teachers.

    Next, I think that would still have to be a pretty small school district to only have three biology teachers. Plus, I seem to recall teachers occasionally moving from one area to another. They're not college professors, y'know.

  • ||

    "Or maybe it just isn't all that important. A terrible school, public or private, can really damage a kid, but a merely mediocre one can be survived."

    We are saved thankfully, by a university system which is the best in the world. I'll point out, that it is a far more competitive market than the public school system.

  • fyodor||

    Good point MP. Plus I think joe's implied point that Islamist extremism in the Netherlands can be blamed on the cited preponderance of private education is rather a stretch.

  • ||

    "Dude. Seriously. Think before you post."

    Dude, seriously, read before you try to get wise with me. Note the word "system."

    I will say that I went to a public school, and had a 12th grade reading level in the 4th grade. Of course, my brother taught me to read before I ever went to one...

  • dhex||

    "That doesn't begin to explain the complete lack of private school grads in the hundreds of high-tech workers I know."

    maybe you need to get out more?

    now, i know a ridiculous amount of foreign tech workers, mostly from eastern europe. almost all of them went to private schools.

    that and two dollars will get me a ride on the subway.

    an interesting addition to your data set would be to find out how many of them went to private colleges.

  • ||

    "A public school system with 10,000 students costs twice as much to heat as one with 5,000."

    Let's test this.

    High school enrollment: 3000 in one school

    Middle school enrollment: 3000 in three schools

    Elementary school enrollment: 4000 in ten schools

    Let's further stipulate that each school is full at this level, and that each 100 kids costs the same to heat.

    Cost of heating the High School - 30X

    Cost of heating each Middle School - 10X

    Cost of heating each Elemetary School - 4X

    Total: 30X + 30X + 40X = 100X

    Now, we take 10% of each grade's population out of the system.

    The High School has 2700 students, but it's still the same building. 30X

    We close one elementary school. 36X

    All three middle schools remain open. 30X

    30X + 36X + 30X = 96X

    A 10% reduction in population gives us an 4% reduction in heating costs, and that generously assumes that such a reducation will result in a very efficient relocation.

    And yes, operating a school at 90% occupancy is very common.

  • M1EK||

    "Dude, seriously, read before you try to get wise with me. Note the word "system.""

    Point stands either way. A 5,000 student system is likely to have a fair deal more than 1/2 as much space to heat as a 10,000 student system due to economies of scale.

  • M1EK||

    "now, i know a ridiculous amount of foreign tech workers, mostly from eastern europe. almost all of them went to private schools."

    Since I was talking about American tech workers, I don't give a crap.

  • ||

    "Do you really believe that is a legitimate goal? If so, you just validated nmg's point."

    Despite his hysterical phrasing, yes, nmg points to a legitimate goal. Think of the kids in New York's PS system in the 1890s-1930s.

  • dhex||

    your experiences and your anecdotes will also get your a ride on the bus, so long as you bring those vaunted two dollars.

  • ||

    This seems alot like a point I think Jennifer was making the other day. Something like, we actively choose not to take the long term improvement, in order to avoid dealing with the short term shock.

  • ||

    joe,
    While Holland is largely divided by religion (One Dutchman a theologian, two Dutchmen a sect, three Dutchmen a schism.), there has been little sectarian violence in centuries. Their recent Moslem issues are hardly unique in the Western world. In fact, aren't there conflicts BECAUSE OF rules aimed at Moslem children in French public schools?

    Ludwig von Mises wrote a book in 1919 (the name of which I cannot remember) in which he talked about the causes of WWI. One of the causes he cited was struggles for control of public school curricula in regions with multiple ethnic, religious, and language groups. One of the reasons for an extensive Catholic school system in the US is efforts of Protestants to use the public school system to convert the children of immigrants in the early 20th century.

    Compare the coexistence of "subcultures" in Holland to race riots in the US. In the sixties, when we were arguing about civil rights for Blacks, a survey of Dutch parents indicated that they overwhelmingly preferred that their children marry someone of a different race than someone of a different religion. I think there may be something meritorious in choosing one's companion based on a similar world-view as opposed to choosing them based on race, income, or profession.

    I guess that is beyond the scope of this thread except that some parents have this quaint notion that they should have a say what their children are taught even if the majority disagree.

  • ||

    Now, my analysis leaves out the fact that the per-pupil heating cost will be higher in the elemtary grades, where the buildings are smaller. But then, those are also the schools that will see little or no reduction in staff positions - because they're the littler schools. A 10% reduction in enrollment will result in a less than 10% reduction in costs, because at one level or another, there will be little or no reduction at all.

  • ||

    nobody in libertopia cares if poor folks don't get educated. They should have chose them some better parents.

    Christ, M1EK, this statement is so hurtful and woefully ingnorant it takes every fiber of my being not to rant. You had some good topic starters earlier and it seems now all you want to do is troll. Do you really want to know how schools would work under a libertarian system? If you think you already know I would love to know what your sources are.

  • fyodor||

    What M1EK is talking about is commonly known as "economies of scale."

    How significant it is varies. And what adjectives best describe that level of signficance varies even more! :-)

  • ||

    Is it possible for either of you to even try to see someone else's point? A town with 50,000 kids pays twice as much for education as one with 25,000. Just because there are transaction costs to transitioning the town with 50,000 kids to a town with 25,000 kids in public schools does not make it a bad idea.

    You'd have to make some argument about the costs being incredibly high, which you can't because they aren't.

    As for your example, close a few rooms off and turn off the heat. Move 3 elementary schools into a middle school, etc. I'm guessing creative problem solving isn't much of requirement for urban planners. I'm betting someone could bring the costs much closer to parity than your, again, silly example.

  • ||

    but um joe, unless i've totally been missing something, if i have a well and a septic system, i don't pay a water bill do i?

  • MP||

    The #2 solution pushed by those people is vouchers, which will destroy public education for the remaining M% as well, since the top N% are also the cheapest/easiest to educate.

    Once you break the public school monopoly and turn over choice to parents, for profit schools will likely be only marginally better, on average, than public schools. It is wrong to believe that for profit schools will be similar to the current crop of elite private schools, and thus simply suck off the cream. Furthermore, schools that accept vouchers should do so on a first come/first serve manner, making them indifferent to the quality of the student.

    As JDM pointed out, we have a public/private situation with Universities. I don't see how it would be any different with K-12.

  • MP||

    Now, my analysis leaves out the fact that the per-pupil heating cost will be higher in the elemtary grades, where the buildings are smaller.

    This is offset by the materials costs, since those teeny-weeny desks are a lot cheaper.

  • ||

    How did this turn from noting that some poor children getting educated in the absense of a universal school entitlement into a threat to destroy the US school entitlement? We were all reading the same article?

    While it may be an obvious rhetorical tool for those who oppose the US school entitlement, can't you even acknowledge that some poor children were getting an education without government forceable redistribution of wealth? Is it really that dangerous to even admit that it is happening and may even be a good thing?

    Yes, I understand that this doesn't mean that all poor children are being educated or even that their educations' meet any commonly acceptable standard, but it also doesn't necessarily mean that such a set of local systems might not outperform (in quantity and quality) a compulsory, centralized, tax-fed system.

  • ||

    How did this turn from noting that some poor children getting educated in the absense of a universal school entitlement into a threat to destroy the US school entitlement? We were all reading the same article?

    Because people who privately educate their children might not want to still have to fund the public school system, and according to its defenders, it needs everyone chipping in to keep from completely failing. That, tied with the demand that the public school system serve everyone, not just those who can't afford private education, means they appear to find alternatives to their system tolerable as long as every escapee is still required to fund a public system designed to educate all students.

  • nmg||

    "one of the purposes of a public school system - to promote cultural cohesion and discourage the formation of mutually-hostile subcultures. The forging of a common identity."

    I rest my case. the leftist opposition to vouchers and/or privatization is generally motivated by a concern that children will not be subject to state-controlled indoctrination. That is a horrifying thought to hard-core statists.

    nmg

  • ||

    I realize no one is suggesting banning private schools but then the question is why, in the wealthiest country in the world, do we not have the same support for low-cost private schools? Apparently, those schools are providing a real service (educating children) that the public school system either cannot or will not provide in extremely poor environments. People may not explicitly endorse banning private schools, but they seem to shriek every time someone suggests a way for moving some kids from public to private education.

    I believe that parents and children should have a real choice in education. A public school system cannot provide that choice, although it can (and does) serve to provide at least a minimal, basic education to every one, and sometimes more. Again, vouchers are one possible way to give people that choice, but I believe that's working on the wrong level. It would be a legal and practical impossibility to open such local and low-cost private schools in the US, and for a country that prides itself on entrepreneurship that's ridiculous.

    I just can't get behind the argument that by allowing some students to attend private schools, that the public school system would wither and leave oh-so-many poor children uneducated.

    Again, according to the article the majority of poor parents could afford to send their children to these private schools, and their children received a better education. To me, that's a good thing.

  • ||

    "As JDM pointed out, we have a public/private situation with Universities. I don't see how it would be any different with K-12."

    I just don't get how anyone can still be hazy about whether competition among service providers improves the level and prices of services provided or not. Perhaps modern liberalism is a learning disablity.

  • ||

    People may not explicitly endorse banning private schools, but they seem to shriek every time someone suggests a way for moving some kids from public to private education.

    Like I said, it's the fear they'll want to stop paying for the service the government isn't providing them - or demand control over that money, in the case of vouchers.

  • Uncle Sam||

    Book reference:

    Inside American Education by Thomas Sowell

    BTW, TJ was a proponent of University education funded by gov't.
    At that time, there was no national or state level government primary education.

    Even retired schoolteachers (who don't have to worry about censure by colleagues) frequently observe that government education has gone downhill. Understanding bureaucratic incentives hiints to the inevitability of decline.
    The post office used to be an exemplary service, now postal carriers may refuse to deliver if they have to walk around a parked car to get to you mailbox.

  • ||

    "The post office used to be an exemplary service, now postal carriers may refuse to deliver if they have to walk around a parked car to get to you mailbox."

    A perfect case in point. A friend of mine used to be a financial analyst at UPS. Their internal analysis showed that they could deliver mail to every address in the US every day for a 3 cent a letter flat rate. This was 7-8 years ago, so maybe 4-5 cents now. How much is a government stamp?

  • nmg||

    "Neither solution proposes ANYTHING to handle the primary goal of public education - to attempt to educate ALL children"

    And there's the rub. You can't educate *all* children. Only the ones who are willing to behave and try.

    The current system fails to educate *all* children, no one can deny that. So the question is, can we do a better job educating more children with a different system?

    It would be hard to do worse than we are doing now.

    Also, don't underestimate the value of choice. I'd rather have the freedom to choose poorly than to be coerced into doing what's best for me, as decided by a committee of union-controlled bureucrats...

    nmg

  • ||

    I'm trying to think of all the social programs that try to, instead of providing a service to the people who presumably can't afford it themselves, provide a service to everyone.

    Public schools and Social Security (means-testing? *gasp!*) are obvious examples, but I'm blanking on any others.

  • ||

    "I'm trying to think of all the social programs that try to, instead of providing a service to the people who presumably can't afford it themselves, provide a service to everyone."

    The bigger problem is that the government essentially acts as a service to distribute paychecks to all of its employees, whether the services they provide are efficient, or needed, or neither.

  • nmg||

    For leftists with the utopian vision of global education provided by the benevolent state, I have a simple Socratic question for you:

    Why are monopolies bad?

    Now this should not be hard for you to answer considering how much you hate capitalism and freedom. Ask yourself why you despise large corporations, and when you are done listing all the reasons, simply replace "large corporation" with "public school system" and maybe you'll see the light.

    nmg

  • ||

    Like I said, it's the fear they'll want to stop paying for the service the government isn't providing them - or demand control over that money, in the case of vouchers.

    Surely that's a big part of it, but I think that fear is completely overblown. Our tax dollars go to all sorts of things that we don't receive real service for and, despite some complaints, nothing is changing that. I think that's especially true in the case of educating children, something everyone thinks is worthwhile even if they disagree completely on how to go about it.

  • ||

    Surely that's a big part of it, but I think that fear is completely overblown.

    Well, of course. The feasibility of any real change in the America educational system is nil for the time being. But even the spectre of change is scary.

  • ||

    Kent's point about the Dutch schools gets at one of the purposes of a public school system - to promote cultural cohesion and discourage the formation of mutually-hostile subcultures.

    And if there's one thing the American public schools simply excel at, it's discouraging the formation of mutually-hostile subcultures. "Jocks v. nerds" is a cliche that simply arose from the vacuum rather than having any sort of truth behind it.

    Yes, I realize such antagonisms rarely have the deadly results of a single Dutch filmmaker being gunned down in the street by fanatical Islamists, but I question the degree -- "question" being the most temperate word I can think of -- to which that had bugger-all to do with where any of the parties involved received an education.

  • drf||

    excellent public boarding school in illinois:

    imsa.edu

    (the plug is still there, by the way)

  • ||

    "As JDM pointed out, we have a public/private situation with Universities. I don't see how it would be any different with K-12."

    selection bias.

    Don't get me wrong though, little could be worse than the current system. Been there, done that.

  • ||

    Since I personally know what goes on in private schools, this is what happens now:

    Parents or guardians decide to transfer a problem student from public to private school in hopes of improving their will-to-learn and remove bad influences.

    Small, grass-roots, private school with limited resources accepts problem student because they need the money.

    Parents proceed to exert undue influence upon teachers, because there are minimal administrative protocols in place to handle their demands.

    Teachers who are constantly second-guessed by now top-heavy Parent-run school, quit or band together to form a defacto union.

    Dissatisfied parents pull problem student from school, destabilizing learning environment, student's education, and leaving mess in their wake.

    Departing parents are never held accountable. School gains poor reputation. Parents Organization imposes bureaucratic process in attempt to exert political influence over the technical know-how of teacher's job (it's just reading out of a book, isn't it?).

    Result: year-to-year private school enrollments uncertain, teacher's pay lower than public school. Good teachers leave for better jobs. Freshly-graduated teachers arrive to take their place in classrooms with 3 grade-levels consolidated together in one (yet still requiring the same amount of preparation and grading as 3 classes). Teachers without the years of experience neeeded to handle teaching simultaneous classes lose motivation and reduce personal expectations in line with their wages.

    Students are undereducated. Parents and teachers lose respect for one another. A system for agreeing to minimal standards is born. Viola, the private schools recycle students back into the public school system.

  • ||

    excellent public boarding school in illinois: imsa.edu

    Probably not as good as Headmaster Darkly's Finishing School for Vulnerable, Shapely Young Ladies Who Are Legally Adults, But Just Barely. I would like to put in a good word for this school as well.

  • ||

    Joe M,

    Having attended both public and private schools in my life and knowing well students from both, I don't disagree that your scenario is possible or even probable. A good school will not make a poor student good. Ever. But the right school can make a good student better. I've directly seen more bullshit from parents in public schools than private. Yes, people who spend private dollars may pull their children from a school that doesn't meet their needs and so be it. But a public school parent expects much, much more. Purple ink and all that.

    It's really not a question of "public vs. private". It's a question of how we can best serve the total needs of the community. I beleive that must include real school choice. You seem to believe that only "problem" children are sent to private schools, in hopes that they will do better. Well, that's a load of crap. There are many children who are stuck in a public school environment that underserves them. And that includes a lot of different types of people, whether they be artists, scientists, athletes or otherwise. Those choices exist only after high school for the majority, if at all. They should, and need, to exist before that. A purely public school system can never do that, no more than the "free" public vs super-expensive private system that we have now can.

    As I see it, this article simply claims that private schooling doesn't need to be expensive and can serve the needs of even the poorest communities without charity or government assistance. The only question is, if schools like those described in the article were available in the US, would they help or hurt in the final goal of educating all children?

    I think they would help and, as far as I'm concerned, that's the real debate.

  • ||

    So many people defend their local school by citing their kids' great grades. "The school is really good. Little Johnny is getting mostly A's." Can Johnny read well? "He's getting an A in reading." Wow. The school must be great. He'll have a high tech job in no time.

  • ||

    JDM, Eric V., etc.

    why do you waste your time continuing to debate this topic with somebody as pesky, dogmatic, and cagey as the M1EK?

  • M1EK||

    "why, in the wealthiest country in the world, do we not have the same support for low-cost private schools?"

    This is the question that none of you have bothered to answer. In the case of non-smoking bars, y'all fall all over yourselves to claim that WELL OF COURSE IT MEANS THERE'S NO DEMAND FOR THEM!

    Where is that simplistic IF THE MARKET AIN'T PROVIDIN' IT THERE AIN'T NO DEMAND FER IT thinking now?

    And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim.

  • MP||

    And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim.

    My turn to call bullshit. There is plenty of demand. However, since the resources need to satisfy these demands are forcefully taken and redistributed at the discretion of educrats, most individuals are not in a position to seek alternatives.

  • Uncle Sam||

    IOW, private schools to serve the middle and lower classes are competing on an unlevel playing field against government subsidied schools.
    having the immediate apearance of being "free", consumers are denied appropriate feedback on releative costs of government vs private education.

    We homeschool. It's a grwoing movement.

  • M1EK||

    "And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim.

    My turn to call bullshit. There is plenty of demand. However, since the resources need to satisfy these demands are forcefully taken and redistributed at the discretion of educrats"

    In the countries which the original writer visited, were there not public schools? (The claim was that there were). Were they not paid for by tax dollars? (The claim was that they were).

    "We homeschool. It's a grwoing movement."

    Hope your kid turns out OK. That one girl I mentioned earlier is gonna have a hell of a time in college, unless they homeschool her for that too.

  • ||

    I perfectly capable of seeing other people's point, you dyspeptic collection of initials. I'm also capable of seeing flawed thinking and poorly informed arguments.

    "A town with 50,000 kids pays twice as much for education as one with 25,000."

    No, it probably pays a little less than that.

    "Just because there are transaction costs..." They're not transaction costs. They're higher per-unit operating costs.

    "As for your example, close a few rooms off and turn off the heat." You'd still have the base amount of fuel being burned, as well as that for common areas. Closing 1/10 of the classrooms wouldn't lower your costs by 1/10.

    "I'm guessing creative problem solving isn't much of requirement for urban planners" The depth of the ignorance you've shown about the subject over the years displays itself again.

  • ||

    mtc, "but um joe, unless i've totally been missing something, if i have a well and a septic system, i don't pay a water bill do i?"

    No, you don't. The utility thus has that much lower revenue for its operations. However, there is a difference - if you have a well and septic system, you don't also have a water and sewerage connection standing by in case you change your mind.

    Wailing, shrieking nmg,

    "state-controlled indoctrination" is not generally the term used to describe having people from different background have shared educational experiences, and thus come to view themselves as part of a community. PS, the chip in your head says it's time to bark like a dog.

  • ||

    nmg, "Only the ones who are willing to behave and try."

    So the thinking here is, we go from a system that doesn't educate kids who aren't motivated, to one that doesn't educate kids who aren't motivated AND kids whose parents can't pay. Thank you for admitting that you're willing to settle for a system that doesn't educate kids based on "market forces."

    "Why are monopolies bad?" Because they are subject to neither market corrections, NOR TO democratic control, and can therefore screw anybody they want without repercussions. Next question.

    BTW, I don't hate capitalism, or freedom. I hate pricks who use buzzwords to sucker people out of the opportunities that rightfully belong to them.

  • ||

    This is the question that none of you have bothered to answer. In the case of non-smoking bars, y'all fall all over yourselves to claim that WELL OF COURSE IT MEANS THERE'S NO DEMAND FOR THEM!

    Where is that simplistic IF THE MARKET AIN'T PROVIDIN' IT THERE AIN'T NO DEMAND FER IT thinking now?

    And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim.


    I suppose it's too late now, but I was asking you the question. I answered it several times already. Why isn't the market providing me with beer in the grocery store? I guess there's no demand for it...

    I never claimed that public schools were terrible, only that parents and children should have a choice. I also claimed the abolishing public schools is uneccesary and counterproductive and that they serve a real need.

    But honestly, if you think the public school system isn't hurting the poor at all, you should come teach with my roomate in North Philly. Those are the kids who get screwed by being forced to go to an overburdened school. (Is this the part where I'm supposed to accuse you of hating poor children? I still can't get the hang of arguing with you.) If such low-cost private schools were available in North Philly, do you not think it likely that many parents would switch their kids? Is your argument really that there's no demand for affordable private schooling for the poor?

    And there's quite clearly a growing demand for non-smoking bars. In Philly, where the ban has had trouble passing for several years, there have long been a number of non-smoking venues and they're growing in number. Just because there's not enough market penetration for your liking is no reason to make a law.

  • ||

    Oops, above the italics should end after

    And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim.

  • ||

    "And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim."

    Maybe. Or maybe the barrier to entry posed by our current system is sufficiently high that only expensive schools with high margins can expect to even try.

  • ||

    M1EK,

    Why do you think a homeschooled kid would be less likely to "turn out OK"?

    In terms of college, homeschoolers attend as much and fare as well as public-schoolers, according to
    this study from eight years ago.

    How many homeschooled kids have you met? If someone told you their kid was going to the local public school, would you say that you hope they turn out okay?

  • ||

    And as to the uncovering of demand M1EK goes on about, we only have two choices:

    1) We can let the market tell us what demand is.

    2) We can let M1EK tell us what demand is and back him with regulatory power.

    The market isn't perfect, but it is generally better than the alternative. Especially that alternative.

  • Jadagul||

    Just an observation I thought I'd throw out there: I grew up in New Orleans, where most public schools are abysmally, disgustingly, embarassingly shitty. Also where there's an enormous profusion of private schools. And I'll admit that I have no clue how this scales, nor any hard numbers (I don't think you could really collect these numbers effectively), but the limiting factor on getting your kid into a private school generally wasn't money. My mother used to go help out at a private school where I'd be shocked if any of the students belonged to lower-middle-class families or better. But the school had fairly low tuition, and offered tuition breaks insofar as possible, and so people could go there anyway.

    On the other hand, if you wanted to send your kid to a private school, someone had to care. The privateness worked to separate out the kids whose parents didn't care, and largely the kids who didn't care. So many of the poor kids who had supportive parents and some motivation were able to get educated, and the school didn't have to waste resources on the ones who weren't gonna try.

    Now, I won't claim that the system was perfect, certainly, and I'm sure some kids got screwed. That is, those kids were stuck in the public schools, and thus were screwed. But it seems like a largely-private system can do lots of good things.

  • ||

    "Closing 1/10 of the classrooms wouldn't lower your costs by 1/10."

    Way to once again miss the point.

    "No, it probably pays a little less than that."

    You've said nothing to show why school systems with fewer students cost more than systems with more students. The case of smaller schools doesn't even really help you, since smaller schools usually (but not always) cost more per student, but always (as far as I can tell) less per graduate. They give more bang for the buck, provided your goals aren't warehousing students, and social engineering. I'm willing to bet the same is true of smaller school systems, but that the cost per student is also much closer.

    If you see my point, I have to conclude that you are ignoring it since I haven't seen you make any arguments relevant to it.

    I'll restate my point for the slow and liberal: the argument that there are costs associated with moving to a mixed public/private or all private system so we can't move to one is wrong (since the costs are small,) short sighted, and weak.

    Moreover, more efficient private schools would almost certainly lower the overall costs of education, more than making up for any inefficiency in shrinking the size of child-prison systems.

  • M1EK||

    "1) We can let the market tell us what demand is."

    GREAT! The market has shown very little demand for low-cost private schools in this country.

    OOPS!

  • M1EK||

    "Maybe. Or maybe the barrier to entry posed by our current system is sufficiently high that only expensive schools with high margins can expect to even try."

    Wait a minute? Now you're telling me we need to do more than a third-grade libertarians' analysis of the market to figure things out? Where were you when the topic of non-smoking restaurants and bars came up?

  • Uncle Sam||

    >>"We homeschool. It's a grwoing movement."

    Hope your kid turns out OK. That one girl I mentioned earlier is gonna have a hell of a time in college, unless they homeschool her for that too.

  • M1EK||

    "If such low-cost private schools were available in North Philly, do you not think it likely that many parents would switch their kids? Is your argument really that there's no demand for affordable private schooling for the poor?

    And there's quite clearly a growing demand for non-smoking bars. In Philly, where the ban has had trouble passing for several years, there have long been a number of non-smoking venues and they're growing in number. Just because there's not enough market penetration for your liking is no reason to make a law."

    You must practice Yoga to be able to twist that quickly. Nice work.

    EITHER absence of low-cost private schools is evidence of no demand (since we're using the IF IT AIN'T THERE NOBODY WANTS IT method, and don't bring up beer in grocery stores, since there's no regulation against cheap private schools) _OR_ we need to look more closely at a possible "market failure", in which case, most of the commenters on H&R are going to have to revisit their opinions on the whole non-smoking restaurants and bars issue.

  • M1EK||

    "Why do you think a homeschooled kid would be less likely to "turn out OK"?"

    The stereotype is that they're not socialized adequately (and don't give me this crap about how you can have play dates and whatnot; you don't get to only deal with the 'right kinds of people' in college or at a job).

  • Uncle Sam||

    "The case of smaller schools doesn't even really help you, since smaller schools usually (but not always) cost more per student, but always (as far as I can tell) less per graduate."

    Anything done by government that can feasibly be done in the non-coercive secter, will invariably cost more. Usually much more.

    In CA, for example, the administrative staff exceeds the classroom staff. The only demand for such a situation comes from the administrative staff.

  • M1EK||

    "My kid is turning out OK. I don't have to worry about the school putting her on Ritalin, or bullying, cliqueing, improper peer pressure."

    On the other hand, (general homeschooling you here), your kid likely isn't being exposed to people with differing economic backgrounds (not even to the small degree found in suburban schools), likely isn't being taught by qualified teachers (the good kind of qualified here - i.e. a biology teacher in high school is going to whoop your ass), and likely isn't learning how to get along.

    College is going to be a huge hurdle, unless you're going to home-school there too.

  • ||

    What is there about education that says the results of private enterprise will be worse, and more costly than the public sector, unlike every other service industry? Indeed, every other industry in general? I'm all ears.

  • Uncle Sam||

    "The stereotype is that they're not socialized adequately (and don't give me this crap about how you can have play dates and whatnot; you don't get to only deal with the 'right kinds of people' in college or at a job)."

    See? It's not about education, it's about "socialization". And it's always assumed that whatever socialization means in the context of government schools, it's a good thing, never bad.

    I say that children should not be socialized in the uncontrolled manner typical of government schools. They are effectively socialized by other children. Children are people that have not learned how to behave appropriately.

  • ||

    The stereotype is that they're not socialized adequately (and don't give me this crap about how you can have play dates and whatnot; you don't get to only deal with the 'right kinds of people' in college or at a job).

    Wow, you're basing your opinion on a stereotype. Doesn't that count as bigotry? I mean, you're very confident about this, so you must have some knowledge or experience in the area. What is it?

    What does it mean to be "socialized adequately?" Do you think kids learn better when they're being bullied or excluded (or encouraged to exclude others) or discouraged from interacting with younger kids or adults?

    When was the last time you walked into a public middle school?

  • Uncle Sam||

    "a biology teacher in high school is going to whoop your ass), and likely isn't learning how to get along."

    Pure assumption on your part as you know next to nothing about my qualifications. I had a 4.0+ gade in high school biology and I am always keen to keep myself up to date on developments. And teachers do rely on external resources which are also available to me.

    Many colleges have opened up to homeschooled children, they are finding that they don't require the remedial education they hae to provide to many graduates of government schools.

  • Uncle Sam||

    He really does have the stereotypical view, doesn't he?

  • ||

    M1EK,

    Stereotypes can be fun and confidence-building, but the most recent study study of adults who were homeschooled showed:

    Over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18-24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general United States population.

    Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. 71% participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages. 88% of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization (e.g., such as a community group, church or synagogue, union, homeschool group, or professional organization), compared to 50% of U.S. adults.

    Only 4.2% of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated
    to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults. This may account for why homeschool graduates work for candidates, contribute to campaigns, and vote in much higher percentagesthan the general population of the United States. For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages
    of 18�24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population. The numbers of homeschool graduates
    who vote are even greater in the older age
    brackets, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared to a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. populace. Interestingly, the three participants in the age-55�69 category were also more civically active than their peers nationwide (but the sample size was so small that this category was/is not included in the figures).

  • ||

    "He really does have the stereotypical view, doesn't he?"

    At least he tacitly admits he's just trumpeting his own ignorant prejudice.

    There is a lot of actual data out there on the results of homeschooling, you might want to read some of it, M1EK. All give you a preview - you're farther off base than Ricky Henderson ever dared go.

  • ||

    Sorry about the formatting there. Strange days, indeed.

    Anyway, M1EK, your opinions on the subject are as uninformed as they could possibly be. Go meet some homeschooled kids. Or maybe, and this might be a little radical, considering your baseless confidence, read up on the subject.

  • ||

    Guess Les brought some to you.

    Listen, lefties, just say you'd like to see public scholarships in a world of private schools, with the occasional public school where it makes sense.

  • ||

    GREAT! The market has shown very little demand for low-cost private schools in this country.

    One word.
    Kumon

    After school programs are private, and their getting cheaper and more widespread every day. Of course, due to our anti-competitive system hapering american innovation, we are lucky to get the foriegn franchise educational supplements we do get.

  • ||

    Where is that simplistic IF THE MARKET AIN'T PROVIDIN' IT THERE AIN'T NO DEMAND FER IT thinking now?

    And if there ain't no demand fer it, maybe it's because, just MAYBE, the public schools in this country aren't as bad as you all claim.

    (end of M1EK quote, in case H+R's cruddy software eats my tags)

    I would say that there is not a demand for "private education" per se. There is a demand for education in some form. The thing is, this demand is already largely filled by public schooling. However, there is the matter of marginal cost vs. marginal benefit. The marginal benefit of a private school may be fairly small (assuming it is there - I am willing to leave that up in the air), but the marginal cost tends to be large. That is going to induce a large number of parents to elect for the public school.

    Think of it this way: there is obviously a demand for hamburgers, and the market meets this demand. Now imagine that the government starts handing out free (tax-funded) hamburgers on street corners. What do you think this will do to the non-government burger vendors? Do you think that this scenario affects the overall demand for hamburgers? I would even venture to guess that the "public hamburgers" scenario most affects consumers who are most cost-sensitive (ie, the poor) and those who serve that market. If you really wanted filet mignon with bearnaise sauce and were willing to pay for it, you probably wouldn't be satisfied with a gov't hamburger, leading to the continued existence of luxury restaurants. Parallels with the school system of the US are left as an exercise for the reader.

    There is also the simpler response that issues of supply and demand are not refuted by saying "Well, it doesn't exist, so there must not be any demand." I would like a parking space in midtown Manhattan for $5/day, as I suspect would many people. The fact that it does not exist doesn't mean people don't want it, it means it isn't profitable or possible to offer.

    I do wonder why I bother to respond to you, though, since you seem more interested in creatively misinterpreting everything everyone else says than you do in actually looking at the economics and incentives of the education system.

  • Uncle Sam||

    I once had a discussion with a young woman (maybe 1980) wherein I made point after point which she agreed with. At the end she said: "I agree with everything you say, but I disagree with you."

  • nmg||

    [i]"Do you really believe that is a legitimate goal? If so, you just validated nmg's point."

    Despite his hysterical phrasing, yes, nmg points to a legitimate goal.

    Vindication feels good. It's petty, but it feels good.

    nmg

  • nmg||

    "Why are monopolies bad?" Because they are subject to neither market corrections, NOR TO democratic control, and can therefore screw anybody they want without repercussions. Next question.

    If you have any experience dealing with a school district that your child attends, you will understand that the schools are not subject to democratic control.

    They are subject to unions and bureuacracts. Parents have little to no discretion or power. This is as the statists want it.

    And it's the same debilitating situation people are in when dealing with monopolies. The leftists who hate monopolies but support universal compulsory public schooling are hyporcrites, plain and simple.

    nmg

  • nmg||

    Vouchers would accomplish the goal of giving every child the opportunity to be educated.

    The opposition to vouchers, as joe and M1Ek have flat out admitted on this thread, is that the universal indoctrination of children may fall outside the control of state bureaucrats. *Some* parents may choose to put their kids an environment not to Joe's or M1Ek's liking.

    Sad. At least they admit it.

    nmg

  • nmg||

    JDM: Listen, lefties, just say you'd like to see public scholarships in a world of private schools, with the occasional public school where it makes sense.

    But that would defeat the TRUE purpose of public schooling.

    Your system would actually educate more children and do it more effectively, albeit at the expense of unions, bureaucrats, and ideologues with undue influence. We can't have that.

    nmg

  • M1EK||

    "The opposition to vouchers, as joe and M1Ek have flat out admitted on this thread, is that the universal indoctrination of children may fall outside the control of state bureaucrats."

    No, you tool, I never said anything of the sort.

  • M1EK||

    "The fact that it does not exist doesn't mean people don't want it, it means it isn't profitable or possible to offer."

    When it comes to non-smoking bars, and complete lack of same despite the fact that a large majority of the public does not smoke, the politically correct opinion here on reason.com is that the lack of said establishments is due to the fact that there is obviously no demand for them.

    Do you get it yet?

  • M1EK||

    "Go meet some homeschooled kids."

    The one I met so far was going to enjoy a 4-year college education packed with getting her ass kicked. Well, if that happened to girls. I imagine something worse actually happens to them.

  • M1EK||

    Les,

    I made no comment about the intelligence of homeschooled kids. In fact, due to selection bias, it's likely to be higher than average.

    The stereotype is that they're kids who aren't going to know how to cut it WITH OTHER PEOPLE, which is not a skill you learn from books OR from your parents.

    Especially if your parents are:

    (a) religious freaks
    (b) hard-core libertarians
    (c) know-it-alls who think book larnin' beats all

    or any combination of the above.

    Note that if your answer to "learning how to cut it with other people" is organizing outings with OTHER HOMESCHOOLED KIDS, you just don't get it.

  • Uncle Sam||

    In most places, the opening of establishments is highly regulated. It may be that people who might wish to open bars for non-smokers are have been reluctant to clear regulatory hurdles given that there is a high proportion of drinkers in the smoking population compared to the non-smoking population.
    but
    What has that to do with the topic here?

  • M1EK||

    "When was the last time you walked into a public middle school?"

    My stepson attends one; I walked into one at the beginning of this year for the parent orientation. Thanks for your concern.

  • M1EK||

    Uncle Sam,

    If the absence of in topic is automatic evidence that there's no demand for , then it's true in topic as well.

    People keep complaining that public schools suck away the market for these low-cost private schools, but I've said at least once now that the article clearly states that in these poor countries, the private schools are in fact competing with public schools.

    Occam's Razor suggests that the more likely answer for why such private schools don't exist here is that our public schools are a lot better than 'their' public schools.

  • nmg||

    M1EK, that is EXACTLY what you have said in your comments about "Wahabbis R US" and other comments.

    nmg

  • ||

    Les says,

    "71% participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association)"
    etc...

    M1EK says,

    "The stereotype is that they're kids who aren't going to know how to cut it WITH OTHER PEOPLE"

    Baffling. Just Baffling. Please learn to read.

  • nmg||

    M1Ek you're hilarious. in one breath you deny it and then you follow with a denunciation of homeschooling PRECISELY because the kids may not be socialized to your likely.

    You're amazing.

    nmg

  • nmg||

    "to your likely" = to your liking.

    nmg

  • ||

    M1EK,

    The one I met so far was going to enjoy a 4-year college education packed with getting her ass kicked.

    You've met ONE? ONE? And you've drawn conclusions based on that? Wow. And you never answered my question about what your qualifications are to judge what "adequate socialization" is.

    My stepson attends one; I walked into one at the beginning of this year for the parent orientation.

    Wow, again. During "parent orientation." Do you actually believe you're going to get ANY idea of how the kids act in school during parent orientation? As an ex-teacher, I can assure you that you won't.

    Especially if your parents are:

    (a) religious freaks
    (b) hard-core libertarians
    (c) know-it-alls who think book larnin' beats all

    or any combination of the above.

    What if you're none of the above? What if you're a liberal (though not a loyalist) and a teacher (like my homeschooling friend) and you've had enough experience in public schools to know that they're not as good as they could be at educating kids? I know the question is moot, but still.

    Note that if your answer to "learning how to cut it with other people" is organizing outings with OTHER HOMESCHOOLED KIDS, you just don't get it.

    And what if the answer is regularly hanging out and playing with kids from public school and homeschooled kids? Would I "get it," then?

    You should really make the attempt to educate yourself about the basic facts regarding homeschooling and youth culture in the public schools. Meeting one homeschooled kid and going to parent orientation at the local junior-high does not constitute even a beginning. I think you should hold off on making a judgement on this topic until you've made an effort to learn something about it.

  • ||

    The original article states that poor parents often find that the hidden costs of the "free" government education was actually higher that simple paying for the private school.

    As a former homeschooling mother of children who are now adults, I testify that this is true.

    There are many hidden expenses in government schooling. For instance, I did not need to buy
    "school clothes". Our homeschoolers could easily and very creatively clothe themselves with 25$ a season at our local thrift store. Another example is paper. Our kids used discarded computer print-out paper. If they went to school they would have needed formal lined paper.

    Then there are the subtle expenses. For instance, I remember a friend going crazy trying to find a white skirt ( out of season for children's clothing in November) for her daughter for a school theater production. There is also the pressure among students to keep up with fads. There was subtle shake down on the generosity of parents to provide "extra" supplies for the needy in the class.

    On the blatant side there were school trip fees, and PTA fund raisers.
    ***********************************8
    From the original article:


    In Kenya, the government has recently introduced �free primary education,� but our interviews with parents point to many �hidden costs� of public schools, such as the requirement for full uniforms, which mean that, in practice, private slum schools often turn out to be less expensive.

  • Uncle Sam||

    "People keep complaining that public schools suck away the market for these low-cost private schools."

    Seems obvious, but that's not the only obstacle.

    Governments place many requirements on establishing private schools. Many requirements cost money which makes it more difficult for people to offer low cost alternatives to government school and costly private schools.

    None the less, when Marva Collins (a former go't school teacher) started up such a school in Chicago (I think) she had more applicants than she could handle. Poor people in a poor neighborhood were willing to pay her fee to obtain for their children what they believed to be a better alternative to the government schools they had been attending.

  • Uncle Sam||

    Additionally, I am not aware of any evidence that people actually learn how to deal with difficult personalities in government schools.
    Is it a learn by experience thing where you learn how to deal with being picked on by being picked on? Do they have classes on how to deal with bullies, assholes, and jerks. Is there any cirriculum on recognizing the subtle influence of peer pressure?

    What we do get from government schools is the indoctrination to the liberal belief system (the majority of teachers are liberal). The ideal of socialization in government schools is to become good liberal citizans, and when, eventually, everyone becomes liberal, the right people will be elected to office and the government will become some angelic force for goodwill and fairness for all.

    Fortunately, it's doesn't work. Liberals tend to be people who feel that good intentions are a substitute for knowing what you are doing.

    They are not.

  • ||

    Uncle Sam,

    Government schools are price-fixed cartel. They are giving a service away for free ( well under the true market price). So......when the parent can't find a private school because they are scarce and exclusive, what does the government bureaucrat do? He threatens the parent with armed police action and social workers if he doesn't send his kid to the government school.

    The government school price-fixed cartel is actually worse than the private cartel because the government can force customers into using it service by threatening them with police action and foster care for their kids.

    Hm,,,,can you imagine what would happen to a private business man who price-fixed, and they threatened parents and children with guns if they didn't use his service. Can you imagine if he actually kidnapped their kids and had them raise by another cartel family?

    The private business man would be imprisoned for RICO violations, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and many other violations.

    But,,,hey we all know that down on the Animal Farm, the government school pigs sleep in the house and private business men are imprisoned in a barn.

    Re: Government socialization

    It is Lord of the Flies socialization and highly toxic. What they are learning are prison gang survival skill. All of will need to be unlearned if they are to be successful in business, the home, and community. Fortunately, humans are adaptable and most make the transition. Sadly, some are permanently injured by their government school trauma.

    Also....why is it that an adult would win millions. But little children are told that the sexual harassment, bullying, and physical violence will help them as adults. Huh?

  • ||

    But little children are told that the sexual harassment, bullying, and physical violence will help them as adults.

    That's exactly right, Summer. The people who argue against homeschooling (who tend to be the people most ignorant of it and education in general) seem to think that emotional trauma and learned cruelty (combined with mediocre education) will somehow prepare children for adulthood. Well, maybe if they want to get into politics. ;)

  • Uncle Sam||

    Were you talking to me? I'm a homeschooler, remember? We speak as one.

  • ||

    No, no. I was making a snide remark directed towards the homeschooling critic here. The reflexive fellow with the cryptic name and poopy attitude.

  • ||

    Do they have classes on how to deal with bullies, assholes, and jerks. Is there any cirriculum on recognizing the subtle influence of peer pressure?

    [Devil'sAdvocate] Just to be fair, if the schools were offering classes like that, a lot of us libertarians would probably go nuts about the fact that they were teaching that stuff instead of math, science or reading. Thought I'd better get to that before someone else did. [/Devil'sAdvocate]

  • M1EK||

    Re homeschooling:

    An interesting exercise is to google some of this stuff. You see hundreds and hundreds of articles written by homeschoolers defending themselves against a supposed anti-homeschooling conspiracy, but you don't really see any attacks at all from said conspiracy.

    It makes me wonder how tight your tinfoil hats are.

  • M1EK||

    "M1EK, that is EXACTLY what you have said in your comments about "Wahabbis R US" and other comments."

    Bullshit. Not wanting students to be socialized by fascist theocracies like the Saudis does not equal demanding that they be socialized by my, and only my, method.

  • M1EK||

    "hink that emotional trauma and learned cruelty (combined with mediocre education) will somehow prepare children for adulthood."

    No, but having to deal with kids whose parents aren't just like yours, and who might be a different color, and who might live on the wrong side of the tracks... and yes, even those who are jerks.

    will, in fact, prepare you for adulthood. Your parents don't get to choose your college classmates or your coworkers.

    It's easy to get along with people who are easy to get along with. The hard thing is learning how to get along with the rest of them. One of the FEW links I found which DARED to say anything bad about homeschooling was a collection of letters from homeschooled kids in which several brought up that point.

  • M1EK||

    "Wow, again. During "parent orientation." Do you actually believe you're going to get ANY idea of how the kids act in school during parent orientation? As an ex-teacher, I can assure you that you won't."

    Hey, jackass, you asked me specifically how often I had been in a middle school recently, and you assumed the answer would be ZERO.

    FIRST, you need to apologize for this incorrect assumption.

    THEN, we can talk about all the other times I've been in schools over the last ten years, including times in which those schools were in session.

  • Uncle Sam||

    Has their been ANY research that going to school with abusive others is any benefit to the abused?
    And what about the abusers, do they learn to become non-abusers? It seems not since the abused must learn how to tolerate abusive people sinct they will have to live with them as adult.

    Again, this whole line shows the the main support for "public" education is based on the theoretical benefits of "socialization" on not on education. It seems that government schools, in this model, are there to acclimate the abused to life with abusers.

    Personally, I find adults much easier to deal with as adults as I can more easily avoid association with abusive types, I think it unfortunate that many would deny this option to children.

  • Uncle Sam||

    Let's see what other assumptions must be dealt with.

  • ||

    M1EK,

    You call me a jackass and then insist that I apologize. You talk about the importance of "getting along" with people different from you, while calling the folks here (who are definitely different from you) "morons" and "tools" and "jackasses." That's worth noting.

    You still haven't told me what about your background gives you insight as to what "adequate socialization" is. I'm assuming, at this point, that there is no answer. I could be wrong, though.

  • Uncle Sam||

    "No, but having to deal with kids whose parents aren't just like yours, and who might be a different color, and who might live on the wrong side of the tracks... and yes, even those who are jerks."

    There are no parents "just like yours", or my daughter's. You operate from countless assumptions. You have no clue as to what kinds of people my daughter gets to experience. I suspect you are assuming she has a homogenous social and racial interpersonal experience. I could enlighten you, but I don't think it matters.
    Your defensive hostility shows where you are coming from.

  • Uncle Sam||

    "Your parents don't get to choose your college classmates or your coworkers."

    No, but then, where you work or go to college isn't regulated or mandated by the government.
    In college, students get to choose their own seating, roommates, and have more freedom to avoid jerks. Same with work. People may feel they have no choice about putting up with jerks at work, but in fact, they do. There are legal protections adults can access to protet themselves from harrassment as adults that simply are not easily available to children in school

    Parents often find themselves resorting to lawsuits to get government schools to do anything about bullying, or changing schools (if bureacrats permit).
    This environment is not comparable to what adults operate in.

    Many homeschoolers do so as a last resort because of their difficulties in obtaining satisfaction in government schools. One family I know of took their sn out of gov't school because the bureacrats there wanted to put him on Ritalin. His dad had been subjected to that when he was in school (he took to hiding the pill under his tongue because it made him feel sedated).

  • ||

    Just like to point out that the situation I described (see above ... WAY above) was not a hypothetical. I've seen it happen.

    Interestingly, the local public school districts in which the private schools are located, ARE quite good by academic standards. The parents who tended to send their children to private schools did so either out of personal principle, or because their children were in poorly-performing surrounding school districts.

    Many of these students did well, but because class sizes were smaller, the impact of a single student's behavior could have had a disproportionate effect (and did).

    Because the teachers were busier trying to take care of exceptional students (either exceptionally difficult or exceptionally talented), the job demands were a lot higher for lower pay.

    Thus, there was a tendency to get teachers just out of college, or retired public school teachers. When students used to a younger teacher moved through the grades to an older teacher, the possibility for whiplash from mediocrity to excellence could be drastic.

    Here's the scam: what some parents would do would be to enter a child into a private school from a public school where they were having problems, and then pull the child out again in the next school year and place them in yet another private school.

    This never gave the private schools (who were in competition with one another, and did not readily share information on problem students) a chance to figure out the "tricks of the trade," generally giving the benefit of the doubt as long as possible.

    The problem student would thus be able to transfer their grades (higher than they should have been due to political pressures), and claim graduation from a halfway decent school until they got to a state university where they could drink and cheat to their heart's content-- or, until their behavioral problems progressed to the stage where they went to juvie (next stop: prison, where they could no doubt be subsidized for life).

    Students couldn't be turned down unless they failed to meet certain strict academic standards, or failed to abide by the school's code of conduct. These standards were onerous and required money to self-administer (otherwise, state-standards applied).

    Currently, the state which I am from is now requiring public school teachers to continue accreditation until they achieve their master's degree. No doubt, this will dumb down some M.Ed. courses so teachers can pass, but what private school can compete with that?

    The expenses make it impossible, unless you are a large corporation. "There are no sweat shops vs. ketchup is a vegetable." Do you really want to start polarizing that cultural debate with early indoctrination? Of course you do.

    *roll-eyes*

  • ||

    never fear. when good, wise, compassionate, brilliant people like joe and m1[j]e[r]k are rulers of the universe we will ave nothing to fear, having been properly taught, socialized and enlightened and having our liveng spaces planed and ordered to the last uterly satisfying detail.

    It will be bliss.

  • Uncle Sam||

    Why don't blog programs enumerate comments?

  • Uncle Sam||

    "So the thinking here is, we go from a system that doesn't educate kids who aren't motivated, to one that doesn't educate kids who aren't motivated AND kids whose parents can't pay. Thank you for admitting that you're willing to settle for a system that doesn't educate kids based on "market forces."

    The assumption being that without state funded education poor people won't be able to educate their children.

    Another assumption. In the U.S. the poor have color television, cars, etc. Why assume the above?

    Once upon a time, there was a man, whose name I've forgotten, who started a school and accepted any student, many who were orphans. He taught and then his students taught others. Very shoestring, relying on contributions, but none the less, it worked.

    Why do people assume that without the state taking huge amounts of wealth and wasting large protions of that taken wealth, that people would be worse off? Why are the poor poor?

    It couldn't possibly have anything to do with government wasting trillions of dollars over the years, could it?

  • Jesse Walker||

    People who know the least bit about homeschooling -- a group that clearly does not include M1EK -- know that the families involved frequently form what are, in practice, low-budget cooperative schools. Not only does this offer one avenue for socializing your kids, but it's one of the few ways to start what amounts to a cheap private school without jumping through all the red tape that often prevents such institutions from emerging.

  • ||

    never fear. when good, wise, compassionate, brilliant people like joe and m1[j]e[r]k are rulers of the universe we will have nothing to fear, having been properly taught, socialized and enlightened and having our living spaces and transportation planned and ordered to the last utterly satisfying detail.

    It will be bliss.

  • ||

    Once upon a time, there was a man, whose name I've forgotten, who started a school and accepted any student, many who were orphans. He taught and then his students taught others. Very shoestring, relying on contributions, but none the less, it worked.

    You are perhaps thinking of the Lancasterian system.

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RElancaster.htm

    Like all systems, it has its advocates and its critics.

  • ||

    I mentioned earlier something about public school teachers who send their own children to private schools. I had a chance to dig up some research.

    Public school teachers are more likely to send their own kids to a private school than members of the population at large, according to this study:

    www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=15818

    www.washtimes.com/national/20040922-122847-5968r.htm

    Here is the actual study report (in PDF form) if you want to study the results in detail, and pick it or the methodology apart. (I don't have time to read it.)

    www.edexcellence.net/doc/Fwd-1.1.pdf

  • Uncle Sam||

    "Like all systems, it has its advocates and its critics."

    Is anything perfect?

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