Public schools

The Education Blob Gets Revenge

Working around the public education system can sometimes have terrible consequences.


I wrote recently how teachers unions, parent-teacher associations and school bureaucrats form an education "Blob" that makes it hard to improve schools. They also take revenge on those who work around the Blob.

Here's one more sad example:

Ben Chavis, founder and principal of the American Indian Public Charter Schools, got permission to compete with the Blob in Oakland, Calif. Chavis vowed, "We'll outperform the other schools in five years." He did. Kids at the three schools he runs now have some of the highest test scores in California.

His schools excel even though the government spends less on them.

But Chavis paid his wife to do accounting work, rented property to his schools and didn't follow all of the Blob's rules. So last month, the Oakland School Board said it might close the schools.

TriStar Pictures

Parents and students begged the Blob—pardon me, the school board—not to. One sobbing mother pleaded with the board: "As soon as (my son) goes to this school, he's a top student. … And now you guys want to take that away from me." Many students implored, "Please don't close down our school!"

The school board voted to close the schools anyway.

The students will now probably have to go to Oakland's government-run schools, which are not as good. We asked to talk to members of the Oakland School Board, but they refused.

Chavis, though, explained how working with his wife and renting space to the schools—regarded by the board as too incestuous—saved government money.

"Yes. Some of the money did go to me," he told me. "Someone had to step up and get space. We had 34 kids when I started. Today, we have 1,200."

And those kids got a better education for less tax money. Who cares if Chavis kept some?

The Blob cares. The school board will get about $10 million back if they are no longer obliged to send pupils to Chavis' schools.

They'll be hard-pressed to beat Chavis' academic results, though. U.S. News & World Report says his schools are No. 1 in Oakland. The Washington Post this month said American Indian is No. 1 on the list of most challenging high schools in America. Over the past three years, 100 percent of Chavis' high school seniors were accepted to four-year colleges.

By contrast, in New York City, where I live, a third of high school students don't even graduate in four years.

Chavis says that if the board thinks he stole money, they should arrest him instead of shutting down his schools.

"If I did steal anything … punish me. Don't punish the students."

And while options for kids in Oakland shrink, the Blob grows.

Over the past six decades, as the number of students in public schools doubled, the Friedman Foundation reports that the number of non-teaching staff got eight times as large. Non-teaching staff means assistant principles, associate principals, secretaries, social workers, etc. Twenty-one states now have more school administrators than teachers.

Despite all that new staff, test scores stayed flat.

At least there are a few signs of hope. Remember the union protests at the Wisconsin state capitol two years ago? The union there eventually lost its fight to stop Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from limiting collective bargaining. Now they can bargain over pay but little else. Contracts negotiations that used to take years are sometimes resolved in 15 minutes.

Union membership is no longer automatic but has to be renewed annually by individual members, voluntarily. The result: Teachers unions lost about a third of their members.

I expected that but had no idea that some of the savings in Wisconsin would come from ending the union's monopoly on health insurance. The union had demanded that its members buy insurance from a company the union created. Allowing other insurers to compete lowered insurance costs so much that Wisconsin has saved tens of millions of dollars.

Good for Scott Walker. Less money for the Blob means more money, and freedom, for the rest of us.


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  1. Rage inducing

    1. until I looked at the paycheck that said $7375, I didn’t believe that my mother in law woz realey earning money parttime from their computer.. there neighbour started doing this 4 only twenty one months and resently repayed the mortgage on there cottage and got themselves a Fiat Panda. go to,

    2. up to I looked at the bank draft that said $5552, I be certain that my mom in-law truley making money parttime at there labtop.. there brothers friend has been doing this 4 only about 17 months and just now paid for the morgage on there mini mansion and got a great Volkswagen Golf GTI. read more at
      (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

  2. Again I say…PRIVATE SCHOOL.
    Do whatever it takes to home school/private school. Charter is 3rd option.

    1. Answer? Vouchers.

      1. Vouchers would likely produce better results, but complete privatization of our school system is the real end game. I can picture retired people schooling from their homes, corner retail schools, large Wal-Mart type schools, religious, internet based, private in-home tutoring, and even charity schools that would still surpass the current system. Who knows, the death of the Socratic method may even occur and we have some knew teaching methods enter the market place.

        The voucher system would create different government run school problems. If they are authorized for private schools, then you’ll get cronyism. Ultimately the taxation and redistribution is the root evil that will pollute the system.


    1. You quoting the cartoon?

      1. That’s my favorite line from the cartoon. And pretty much the only one I can remember.

        1. I was always partial to “You will remove Senator Kelly’s brain and replace it with a computer.”

      2. Yeah. I loved X-Men when I was a kid.

  4. We can’t allow any competition for the indoctrination of the childins. The childins must be assimilated, otherwise they could start having unsafe thoughts about freedom and other extremist ideas.

    BTW, NR, but the NYT have really jumped the shark.

    Drastic spending cuts

    Drastic spending cuts? WTF? Does anyone with even a minimum of intelligence still read that rag?

    1. It’s the law of government budget cuts: always cut where it is most visible and most affects the public.

      1. It’s called the ‘Firemen First’ principle.

        1. ^^This

          Same principle in cutting defense systems. DOD and the Services joust with each other and Congress as well.

          A little more convoluted but, otherwise exactly the same.

        2. Or the Washington Monument Syndrome:


    2. The comments! DON’T READ THEM!!!

      1. Reading the comments at NYT will result in instant drinking, no matter if it is 8am.

    3. Canada privatized its air traffic control service. Now its one of the best in the world. And not subject to cutbacks if the Canadian government runs short of pocket change.

      1. It’s a very sad day when even the Canuckistanians can beat you at something, outside of hockey or igloo building.

        1. Except for their awful healthcare system, Canada seems to be doing pretty damn well lately…

            1. And our gun laws.

  5. “As soon as (my son) goes to this school, he’s a top student. … And now you guys want to take that away from me.” Many students implored, “Please don’t close down our school!”

    The school board voted to close the schools anyway.

    Spite makes the world go ’round.

    1. Competition bothering you? Givin you the blues. Call the school board, dirty deeds, done dirt cheap.

  6. I would love to see the results of absolutely NO government laws or money involved in education–not even vouchers. The innovation and diversity of a completely voluntary, private system would be astounding.

    1. Is the real Eric Bana a libertarian or something?

      1. Who is the fake Eric Bana, and how can I tell them apart?

        1. The fake Eric Bana is giant and green and looks like really shitty CGI.

    2. But…but…if there were no government, then we’d have ANARCHY!

  7. Parents and students begged the Blob — pardon me, the school board — not to. One sobbing mother pleaded with the board: “As soon as (my son) goes to this school, he’s a top student. … And now you guys want to take that away from me.” Many students implored, “Please don’t close down our school!”

    The school board voted to close the schools anyway.

    You see, the only way you show that you care about the CHILLUNZ is by raising teacher salaries and increasing budgets so the admins can get their cut of the action. Actually keeping places open where the CHILLUNZ learn reading, writing, arithmetic, and, if Aqua Buddha is kind, science, is not in the best interests of the CHILLUNZ.

    1. We’re talking about $10 million here. Do you have any idea what $10 million can buy the Oakland school district?

      1. Ten more administrators?

        1. Probably more like 5 when you roll in pensions and benefits.

        2. Do you have any idea what $10 million can buy the Oakland school district?

          A “training seminar” in Cabo?

      2. The re-election of 1 state legislator?

      3. About 50% as many students educated at about 25% the quality. Roughly 6.25% as much “education” as the charter would have provided.

      4. Ten million blow jobs?

  8. as the number of students in public schools doubled, the Friedman Foundation reports that the number of non-teaching staff got eight times as large.

    This, this, 1000 times this. If school spending advocates wanted to debate the merits of spending more money in ways that might have an impact on performance, I would respectfully disagree with them, but be open to being persuaded. Since they’re really just using coded language for hiring additional useless (or worse) administrators, I shall continue to give them no respect.

    1. I’d be interested in some analysis of why school staffing mostly aside from teachers has exploded in recent decades. We’ve had gov’t schools for centuries, so their mere existence is not sufficient explanation of this trend.

      1. Universal public education is a 20th century phenomenon if I’m not mistaken.

        1. Compulsory education is a 19th century phenomenon that originated in Prussia. The primary goal was to instill obedience of the subjects to the King.

          Naturally, the tyrants in America were fascinated by the idea of creating slaves in mind rather than body and brought it over hear in the mid-1800s. (see: Horace Mann)

          1. The primary goal was to instill obedience of the subjects to the King.

            We’ve got that covered.

      2. My theory: the “overcrowded classes!!!!” talking point is way too good to give up. If all these extra admin jobs were instead teachers, that problem would be instantly solved.

        Plus degree inflation….you go back for your PhD in “education”, they need to give you a title and salary in line with that impressive new piece of parchment.

      3. Per-capita GDP has increased to the point where wealth can be wasted like that with minimal hardship to middle-class taxpayers.

        1. GDP is a bullshit statistic with false premises and bullshit assumptions built into it, and “Per-Capita GDP” is the essence of collectivism: the pretense that everybody somehow somewhere in some capacity did something, but no one knows what, so we’ll just spread it around and pretend that all is well.

      4. Just like in so many other government agencies, regulations and legislation demand so much paperwork that schools hire more and more full-time positions such as “assistant principals” to be responsible for completing it.

        You could never ask a current administrator to add to his or her current workload. I work for a public hospital. We are all down there in the ER 24/7, but the administrative suite is empty before 10am weekdays, after 4pm on weekdays, and usually sparsely populated during lunchtimes from 11:30 to 2pm. So they have basically only 3-4 hours per day to get all their work done (except Fridays, when they usually don’t come in at all). So if there is more work added, they need to hire another “full-time” administrator to help handle it.

  9. I guess its okay to engage in behavior normally associated with racketeers as long as you say you are doing it for the chilllunz.

    1. There you go! Now you’re getting it! It’s neither illegal nor immoral when the government does it!

      Laws and morality are for peasants like you!

  10. Why are we allowing this to continue? Thanks for bringing this topic up John. We need to keep pushing this issue and start getting right to learn legislation passed!

    1. Why are we allowing this to continue?

      Ignorance. If you don’t have kids in school yet, you don’t care. If you do have kids in school, you’re just trying to survive it until they are out. Once they are out, you don’t care again. Nothing ever gets fixed. Children someone to lobby on their behalf.

  11. Beware of The Blob
    It creeps, and leaps
    And glides and slides
    Across the floor
    Right through
    The door
    And all around the wall
    A splotch, a blotch
    Be careful of The Blob


  12. aOK lets roll that bean footagwe!

    1. I think Anonbot just had a stroke.

  13. These people screwing with these schools care only about the power. The succses of Chavis should be a model to the city. The real problem is the apathy of the voting public who don’t know anything is wrong in their schools or that the union pricks are selfish dogboys

  14. Education Realist debunked this. The school did better by selecting its students very, very carefully. Reasonfail.

    1. Even if that was the case, how is that a failure?

      The students obviously want to be there, they do well there and it costs less money than a standard public school. What’s the fail aspect?

      1. They violated the law in selecting students.

        1. There’s a law requiring schools to enroll a certain percentage of students who would prefer not to be there?

          1. “district rules, which mandate a blind-admissions lottery”

            How’s that crow taste? Good?

            1. Assertion != evidence.

              And how do you prove they didn’t follow it? Establish a quota? What is there aren’t enough homies whose parents care to apply?

    2. Our colleges select students…and they sure as hell don’t have a 100% grad rate.

      1. OK. The rules mandate blind admissions and the school isn’t doing that. So, gg?

    3. Wow, Education Realist seems like a GREAT place to go for intelligent commentarry on the education system. The blogger who runs it faults the AICS because “everyone knows Oakland is black” and the AICS is mostly Chinese!!! (their emphasis).

      I think I shall form all my opinions based on which race benefits most. Please enlighten us with more racist blogs so that we can change our opinions on a variety of issues!

      1. Ah, argumentum ad hominem. Always a good thing to do if you think fallacies are great reasoning, instead of, well, the opposite.

        “Racist” is not a truth-value.

        The entire “success” story of the school is that minorities are supposed to do better there than elsewhere. Asians doing better would be thoroughly “dog bites man”, and no one would be paying this “success” any attention because it would be business as usual. So, yeah, it’s relevant because the entire reason anyone is talking about this is that it’s NOT Chinese. But it is, so…oops!

        The entire goal here is to “close the gap” and all that nonsense, so, you know, knowing whether you’re even educating the low end (you know, the kids who make that gap a gap?) is completely on point. Do you seriously not comprehend that?

        1. Assertion != evidence.

  15. like Marvin implied I cant believe that a mother able to earn $8413 in 4 weeks on the computer. have you read this web link

  16. I’ve taught at two separate charter schools in Oakland. Charters have been popping up like crazy in the entire Bay Area for the past ten years; some of them are better than the district schools, some not so great, usually the brand new ones so they’re pretty green. At any rate, the ones that stay bad typically lose enrollment and then shut down while the good ones grow. Competition: it’s the best way to improve education and the charter system is probably as good as California is gonna get. I’m not gonna hold my breath for the Democratic super-majority to concede to vouchers.

    One thing not mentioned in the article is that charter school teachers are not forced to be members of the California Teacher’s Association, the state’s main teacher’s union. All district teachers must pay union dues (they of course don’t pay them, as they are automatically taken out of one’s paycheck; the district pays it but credits it to the teacher as a payroll accounting trick). The charters aren’t strictly part of the Oakland Unified School District, and almost every charter severs union control (though they do still have to pay into CalSTRS).

    I probably don’t even need to say this, because it’s so obvious, but guaranteed there is pressure from the higher ups at the CTA to find any trifling excuse to shut down a charter and bring those teachers (and those dollars) back into the fold. I mean they NEED those forced, nonvoluntary union dues. For the CHILDREN!

  17. until I looked at the paycheck ov $7310, I didnt believe that my neighbour was like they say truly bringing in money in their spare time at there computar.. there best friend has done this for only about nine months and recently took care of the morgage on there cottage and bourt themselves a Lotus Elan. go to,

  18. Tristan. if you think Francisco`s remark is cool, I just received a great new Bugatti Veyron from having made $8276 this past month and more than ten grand this past-month. it’s by-far the easiest work Ive ever done. I began this eight months/ago and straight away got me at least $83 per hour. I went to this web-site,

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