Cory Booker

The Malcolm X of Education

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George Will notices something I picked up on around one year ago: Newark's mayor Cory Booker is a rare honest-to-God inspiring urban politician.

"I'm the Malcolm X of education—'By any means necessary,' " Booker promises. He says Newark should reverse the assumption that in education "time will be a constant, achievement will vary." If children are not succeeding, extend their school day, bring them in on Saturdays, extend the school year.

He also favors school choice, although he tiptoes around the word "vouchers," which inflames the more than 190,000 members of the state's teachers union. He advocates giving tax credits to companies for money contributed for scholarships to private as well as public schools. "Who," he has asked, "can object to a pool of money that will give poor children the same opportunities as middle-class kids?"

Who? Start with those 190,000, yet another mob afflicting Newark.

Will's earlier grafs, painting the history of Newark (from industrial megolopolis hub to punchline in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle), concisely describe how a city fails when it loses its economic base and the political class waste their energy preserving their power and failing to confront the change. Philadelphia handled the loss of its industry (particularly the Navy Yard) by courting private enterprise (in that case, Kvaerner). Newark didn't handle it so well, and after a point it didn't have many options. New York had to rebound first. Now Booker's dream of priced-out New Yorkers moving into his city for the short Manhattan commute and cheap housing seems realistic.

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  1. Former industrial powerhouses now don’t the crapper because of horrid governing:

    Read: Pittsburgh

  2. “George Will notices something I picked up on around one year ago”

    Well damn if you ain’t the bomb!!!

  3. should read:

    …now down the crapper…

    Damn, I need some Thorazine.

  4. I detest euphimism “school choice” to describe the subsidy of private schools.

    We already have school choice – you can go to any school that agrees to take you.

  5. er…the euphimism…

  6. “We already have school choice – you can go to any school that agrees to take you.”

    As long as you still willing to pay taxes to support the state monopoly schools and have the money to pay the tuition. Other than that, everyone has school choice.

  7. how about the euphemism?

  8. u mispelled a word, now you’re opinion is wrothelss

  9. Just keep that mind open, Dan. No tellin’ where it might take you.

  10. “Now Booker’s dream of priced-out New Yorkers moving into his city for the short Manhattan commute and cheap housing seems realistic.”

    haha. hah. hahaha. ahahahahahahahahahahahah.

    No, not really. I live it Newark, it’s still uninhabitable. The people that work in NY will completely pack-out Bergen and Passaic counties before they even DREAM of moving here. I was recently researching a move-out myself, and found about 50 affordable places in Newark for every 1 in the other towns. NOBODY wants to live here with this much crime. Forget the blight, forget everything else, the crime is simply out of control here. Booker recently had to postpone his plans to hire more police too, since the piece of shit Sharpe James before him spent all the city’s money on trips to Brazil. This city’s fucked.

  11. The real Dan T. is wrong: we won’t have real school choice until the teachers’ unions eradicate private schools and force everyone to go to the public school of their choice that is located closest to their house, and gives us all the choice of paying the taxes to support those schools or going to our choice of the prison closest to our house. And if we don’t like it, too bad, because we chose to accept the social contract when we chose to be born in this country.

  12. As long as you still willing to pay taxes to support the state monopoly schools and have the money to pay the tuition. Other than that, everyone has school choice.

    Well, yeah.

    If having everything both cost-free and tax-free is your criteria for “choice”, then we never have any choice at all.

    And of course, you don’t have to pay taxes for schools – simply choose to live somewhere that doesn’t publicly fund them.

  13. I detest euphimism “school choice” to describe the subsidy of private schools.

    Do you get upset when students can get government assistance to attend private colleges? I don’t see a difference.

    We already have school choice – you can go to any school that agrees to take you.

    Except that most public schools will only take those that live in their district. So, that’s not really choice at all. With college, I could go to any public university I wanted regardless of the distance to my primary residence.

  14. Dan T. how the hell can a poor minority family from Newark “choose” to move to Greenwich, Connecticut?

  15. Dan, are you at all familiar with U.S. education?

  16. Will he create a line of baseball caps for Offspring-listening, lily-white suburban types to wear, too?

  17. [i]”Who,” he has asked, “can object to a pool of money that will give poor children the same opportunities as middle-class kids?”

    Who? Start with those 190,000, yet another mob afflicting Newark.[/i]

    And continue with me. I’m not a unionized teacher, but a suburban Middlesex County resident paying $12k/year in property taxes to support the Old Bridge Township public schools (which my kids do not use, as they are enrolled in Catholic school) as well as the friggin Abbott (thank you NJ Supremes!) districts such as Newark, Camden, et al.

    The upshot is that some of the worst public school districts in NJ already spend far more per pupil (more than $13k/student/year) than any of the suburban school districts in my county. Hey, why not – it’s not their money. The Old Bridge school district does far better with less money per pupil.

    Of course, for true educational value, Catholic schools cannot be beat. They provide a quality education with no government funding and only minor contribution from the diocese, and are almost totally funded by the tuition and fees paid by the students’ families.

  18. Lets all try to remember that even though inner city schools spend more per-pupil, they also have way more special needs students than any suburban district.

  19. Now Booker’s dream of priced-out New Yorkers moving into his city for the short Manhattan commute and cheap housing seems realistic.

    I was priced out of Manhattan recently, and the first place I looked was across the river in Jersey City. What I found was a city that gave over its entire waterfront to soulless, incompatible suburban condos and shopping malls in a desperate bid for tax dollars. The old neighborhoods downtown were slowly sprucing up, but with all the businesses having moved into the mall, they’re not terribly attractive either. I can only imagine Newark will take pretty much any sort of development too, which is great for Newark’s coffers but not so great for anyone who moves there looking for the benefits of living in town.

  20. And of course, you don’t have to pay taxes for schools – simply choose to live somewhere that doesn’t publicly fund them.

    Love it or leave it, baby!

  21. zero,

    Neward sounds like Lowell, Massachusetts in the 70s and 80s. At one point, it had the highest unemployment rate in the country, and was featured on an HBO special about crack. Boarded up stores, vacant mills, the whole bit.

    In the last decade or so, about 2000 loft/condo units have been built in renovated industrial and commercial buildings, in a city of a little over 100,000.

    BTW, the people who might move to similar housing in Newark wouldn’t be picking it over Bergen and Passaic Counties. They’d be picking it over lofts and city neighborhoods in Manhatten and Brooklyn.

  22. Anyone who is rich has the choice of school to go to. That’s what Dan T. is getting at. Why should we care about the poor, right Dan?

  23. Heard Cory Booker speak tonight in Jersey City. One of the most compelling speakers I have ever heard talk about school choice. He didn’t seem to mind using the word voucher. He supports prospective legislation that would give vouchers to students in seven New Jersey cities inclusing Newark and Camden. This week he helped 5 of 6 new legislators that support the school choice legislation beat the incumbents. He is talking as if this school voucher program could become a reality in the next year. Perhaps he is way too optimistic. Time will tell.

  24. And the school vouchers would be funded at $6,000 for elementary and $9,000 for high school–way less than what the Abbots are spending. It would give the kids more choices and save the state millions…

  25. Wow. I just wrote an extensive comment and Reason’s shitty server ate it when I previewed. Considering the value of this sort of blog is largely in user contributions, you’d think investment in reliable tech would be worthwhile. I’ll think twice about taking the risk in the future.

  26. Weigl is right that Philadelphia’s wooing of Kvaerner after closure of the Navy Yard was deft maneuvering. But that was under former Mayor Rendell. Has he paid attention to the city lately? Let’s just say it ain’t a good example of farsighted urban governance.

  27. Sean — I always select the text of my post and copy it before submitting, so when it gets eaten I can paste it back in and try again…

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