One More Year!

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From the Department of "Chicago: What the fuck?" comes Richard Daley's latest proposal: a fifth year of high school. Now, why might that be a good idea? Because the public school system is a smashing success? Because 17-year-olds can't vote and their parents can? No, Daley explains, we need more high school because we need more babies:

Unless something is done to loosen the college tuition collar, Daley warned that the "birth rate will go down in the United States and our knowledge-based economy will not grow."

Apparently, a fifth year of high school will lower college tuition costs, leading to more pregnancies. Just like in Western Europe, where tuition is lower and birth rates are… oh, wait. Not that Daley is one to sweat the small stuff. The Sun Times adds:

The mayor offered no details on how he would pay for a fifth year of high school.

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  1. Maybe he meant he’d be infantilizing people for one more year.

  2. We give up. Our job’s become pointless now.

  3. The Onion – you guys should start writing stories of people doing intelligent and reasonable things. Now that’s parody! 🙂

  4. When I read the article this morning in the Sun-Times, I thought the point of adding a 5th year was to make college more affordable — not to increase the birth rate. It seemed to me like the low birth-rate was a by-product of the fact that college is so expensive — expensive college means we can only afford to send 1-2 kids to college, which means we only have 1-2 kids.

    I didn’t completely understand how adding a 5th year of HS is supposed to help defray the costs of college — but then again…most of what Daley gets quoted doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense if you think about it.

    I really hope he doesn’t run for re-election and the Midwest’s Napolean just fucking fades away.

  5. Actually, I’ve heard persuasive arguments for the opposite: that two years of high school should be lopped off in favor of inducting children into grade school at the age of four. This would send the sixteen-year-olds into tech school or college two years sooner.

    Unstated in all this, of course, is that we actually have plenty of children. They’re just the wrong color. Mayor Daley is becoming increasingly erratic in his public statements. He should maybe keep his offbeat demographic theories to himself.

  6. Apparently there are no community colleges in Chicago.

  7. Uhh, every study I’ve read finds that birth rates among women go down the more educated they are.

  8. ChicagoTom,

    When I grabbed my Sun-Times this morning, I had to skip this article. This just sounds like Daley making an offhand comment, he’s not suggesting actually policy, do you think? If he had brought it up a couple of months ago, maybe the council could have left my precious, precious foie gras alone and fought about this for a while and gotten nothing done. Yippee.

    I really hope he doesn’t run for re-election and the Midwest’s Napolean just fucking fades away.

    I don’t see anyone out there who would be better, but a lot of potential candidates who would be much worse. At least Daley will leave the city better than he found it. I don’t think his old man could have said that.
    Sure, I’m cynical about Chicago politics, but that’s only because I grew up here.

  9. ChicagoTom,

    I think another part of the supposed relation between college costs and low birth rates is that many recent graduates have to pay back student loans for 10 years or so, which is a lot harder if you have kids.

    James,

    The problem with shifting school earlier is that you’d be trying to teach kids things that their brains haven’t developed the ability to understand yet. For example, few 11-year-olds are going to be able to understand algebra, because the neural structure that facilitates abstract thought isn’t fully developed yet. If anything, you’ll convince a lot of kids that they suck at math, who would have done well if they’d studied it a couple of years later.

  10. Strike that damn Groucho Marx thing.

  11. Uhh, every study I’ve read finds that birth rates among women go down the more educated they are.

    Exactly therefore increasing the amount of highschool will increase the birth rate as putting off college for another year gives students another year without education. And during that year they will be procreating like rabbits.

  12. Is he advocating for teenage pregnancy? Cuase I’m sure as hell confused.

  13. I suspect that Daley’s obsession with increasing the birth rate is a manifestation of his desire to restore Chicago’s population to its all-time high of about 3.5 million. Increasing birth rates will not keep people from moving to the suburbs in droves, as seen by the demographic trend known as the Baby Boom. In any case, I doubt that Daley’s little brain is capable of making that realisation.

  14. Increase the birthrate? Well, it does provide several more prom nights.

    But if you really want to shake things up pass a law that says no high school will have more than 500 students. That would increase the number of varsity football players and cheerleaders by at least an order of magnitude.

    Seriously…

    Oh, never mind. It’s Friday.

  15. At least Daley will leave the city better than he found it. I don’t think his old man could have said that.

    highnumber,
    What are you talking about? Chicago was the last big city machine because Daley was the greatest of the big city bosses. Look at what happened to every other city in the 70’s compared to Chicago.

  16. With all the wrongheaded, my-business-as-the -mayor-is-to-micromanage-you-lives drek coming from Bloomberg and Daley, I am left with only one suggestion: cage match. Winner gets to lord over both cities, while the loser has to get a new costume and brood on the sidelines.

  17. “Uhh, every study I’ve read finds that birth rates among women go down the more educated they are.”

    Exactly. With a fifth year of high school, there will necessarily be a rise in high school drop outs, and thus, [self-satisfied] more babies.

  18. I think he’s saying it would lower the cost (to the student) of an education, because we’d only need three years of college after that extra year of high school. I dunno, I don’t favor public education, but if I did, it would seem plausible — if twelve grades of public education are good, maybe thirteen are better.

    (as for the bit about the birth rate, I don’t get the connection.)

  19. James has probably nailed Dawkins’s real feelings here:
    “…we actually have plenty of children. They’re just the wrong color.

    crimethink is also onto something important with brain-age. When I was a teacher, there were quite a few studies indicating that 10th grade was too young for most kids to grasp many of the geometry concepts that are introduced – especially those involving 3-D.

    I believe that the correlation between college education and births is that women with degrees will often put off marriage and motherhood to pursue their careers. The later they start and the more engaged they are in job success, the fewer the children.

  20. “(as for the bit about the birth rate, I don’t get the connection.)”

    He’s saying people will have more kids because it’ll be less expensive to have them, amortizing the cost (to parents) of their college attendance.

  21. Wait, why do we want more children?

    This just sounds really ridiculous, either way, heh.

    I’ve only been in Chicago for a year now, and I can say that I’m very suspicious of Daley. I’m always suspicious of any politician that the people seem to like… that should never happen.

  22. There is a good review of the teen brain here, but it requires a subscription.

    http://www.sciammind.com/issue.cfm

    To summarize, fMRI scans show differences between the teen and adult brain. Most scientists think this is due to age. Some say it is due to environment. I’m not picking a side until someone tries to repeat the scans in a society without public high schools.

  23. I think he’s saying it would lower the cost (to the student) of an education, because we’d only need three years of college after that extra year of high school.

    Perhaps, although high school would cost at least 20% more. But using Daley Math, taxes don’t count.

    Daley’s first couple of terms in office were pretty good, he did reduce bureaucracy and people were able to get things done easier. But that bureaucracy has grown as a result of ass-covering and completely stupid projects like Millennium Park and O’Hare expansion. He’s become Blockhead 37 and it’s time for him to go, but all the viable candidates are actually calling for more bureaucracy.

    Every older US city hit economic rock bottom in the early 80’s, and most of them have had some significant recovery. Giving Daley or Washington credit is a bit of an exaggeration, although I guess you could at least give them some kudos for not fucking things up like Detroit’s succession of criminals in the mayor’s seat.

  24. The brain-age jazz is bullshit. I learned algebra in seventh grade and geometry in eighth. I also am starting my freshman year at Cornell a year early because I skipped my senior year of (public) high school.

  25. Increasing the amount of “objective testing” of teachers is one of the most definitive ways we can ensure that we lower the quality of teachers out there. My first year out of college I ended up teaching high school math…I didn’t have a teaching degree or teacher’s certification or any of the “requirements” for the job, but they offered it to me anyway, because in general smart people want to make more money than school teachers make and want to have control over their classrooms. SOL testing in Virginia was one of the main aspects of teaching high school that convinced me I didn’t want to teach. If you used the money you waste on verifying that teachers are qualified (only to hire unqualified teachers because no one who want the job meets your criteria) and increased teacher salaries by that amount, you will start to see higher quality of education. I almost want to say that something called “the market” is more likely to produce good results than something called “regulation”, but I have no idea why that thought occurs to me.

  26. IMO the “Teaching Doesn’t Pay Enough” argument is bogus. At least in Texas teachers make an above-average annual salary for nine month’s work.

    However the “Teaching Doesn’t Pay Enough For All The Crap The Education Establishment Puts Them Through” argument is valid. That’s why there’s a shortage of qualified candidates.

    Raising pay won’t solve that problem.

  27. Chicago was the last big city machine because Daley was the greatest of the big city bosses. Look at what happened to every other city in the 70’s compared to Chicago.

    I was born in the early 70s, so maybe my awareness was lacking, but as I recall, Chicago sucked in the 70s and early 80s. Most importantly, we were losing industry, but also people moved out of the city in droves and crime rose a lot. Daley fils came in and was kind to business and made the city attractive and desirable to both business and residents like it never had been in recent history. Of course, he cannot take complete credit for any of that, but he was more receptive, adaptive, and proactive to economic and sociologic/demographic changes than a lot of other big city mayors.

    (My general disclaimer regarding Daley/Chicago politics: I live on the border of the city. If I lived within the borders, I might feel very differently about da mare. As it is, I can say that all the residents of Chicagoland who are not registered to vote in the city would vote for Daley if they could. Aside from the smoking ban, he has made the city a great place to visit and spend money in. Most weekends, I spend some time and money there.)

  28. Larry,

    Teachers have an above average pay for 9 months of work (it’s actually 10 in most school districts actually), but a far below average pay for 9 month of work for people with graduate degrees. I’m not even necessarily saying teachers should be paid more, but I am definitely certain that a significant increase in teacher salaries would be accompanied by a significant increase in qualified teachers.

  29. I am glad at least one politician is on top of a long-term problem – our falling birthrates. We should be talking about and addressing this issue before it becomes an impossible demographic problem, as it has already become in Europe, Japan, S. Korea, etc.

    Fortunately, for the time being, high immigrant birthrates have been masking falling native birthrates and we are treading water (last I saw, whites were around 1.7 children/woman and blacks around 2.0, with 2.1 necessary for maintaining population). However, given that birthrates are falling rapidly around the world, we cannot count on immigration to save us forever.

    Worse yet, educated people are having even fewer children. Children of educated people are more likely to be educated themselves (its both genetic and environment, of course). We literally could be breeding ourselves into stupidity. I have seen serious estimates that we could lose one IQ point per generation if we keep up the current pattern of having children.

  30. I am glad at least one politician is on top of a long-term problem – our falling birthrates. We should be talking about and addressing this issue before it becomes an impossible demographic problem, as it has already become in Europe, Japan, S. Korea, etc.

    Fortunately, for the time being, high immigrant birthrates have been masking falling native birthrates and we are treading water (last I saw, whites were around 1.7 children/woman and blacks around 2.0, with 2.1 necessary for maintaining population). However, given that birthrates are falling rapidly around the world, we cannot count on immigration to save us forever.

    Worse yet, educated people are having even fewer children. Children of educated people are more likely to be educated themselves (its both genetic and environment, of course). We literally could be breeding ourselves into stupidity. I have seen serious estimates that we could lose one IQ point per generation if we keep up the current pattern of having children.

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