School Choice

What's the Best Way To Learn? Whatever Works For Your Kid.

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Classroom
Labpluto123

At a moment when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is rubbing his constituents the wrong way with an attack on the education options represented by charter schools, let's take a break and examine a vision of the future of education that embraces all sorts of alternatives. Where de Blasio seems to use your average 1970s-era Department of Motor Vehicles as the starting point for his policy preferences, a recent report authored by Goldwater Institute Education Director Jonathan Butcher looks at the increasingly dynamic and diverse world around us as a model for helping children learn. Butcher takes it as a given that children have different needs and should be able to learn in the variety of ways that suit them, rather than being plugged into one-size-fits-all institutions.

In A Vision for Education and the Future of Learning [PDF], Butcher writes:

[I]magine sitting with your child at the dinner table and preparing for the new school year. But instead of reading a letter telling you what school your child is assigned to, you have a menu of schools, classes, tutors, and extracurricular activities to choose from, some located nearby and others online. This educational directory lists such options as virtual classes, schools that focus on the liberal arts, classes in computer programming, and even lessons taught in another language.

You select math, English, and art classes offered by a local charter school, where your child will sit with friends she's had all of her life. In the afternoon, she'll study Spanish and music online and prepare for the SAT in an evening class at a nearby private school. She swims on the swim team at the neighborhood traditional school twice a week.

New technology and bold legislative advances in educational choice are bringing us closer to the day when this hypothetical dinner-table exercise becomes a reality for every family. However, this vision for the future is a sharp contrast to the factory model of education we have come to accept. We have grown accustomed to the routine of parents sending their children to an assigned public school, and these schools employ administrators, teachers, and other staff who receive their pay regardless of how many children learn to read or drop out of high school. The question for parents and their students in the next generation must change from "Where do we go to school?" to "How do we want to learn?"

Butcher makes the point that children should acquire marketable skills as they learn—something that equips them to function in a world that increasingly requires some knowledge of science and math.

Whatever skills are acquired, and for whatever purpose, he also suggests using technology to allow children to self-pace their own learning, so that they're neither bored nor overwhelmed. That would involve a significant break from the increasingly rigid model currently in vogue.

Butcher gets specific about the policy tools that can be used to achieve these ends, including education savings accounts, online classes, charter schools, and funding that follows kids rather than schools. But the specific tools are less important than a vision of education that recognizes that children aren't widgets. You can't shoehorn them into identical settings, treat them as objects of cookie-cutter teaching plans, and expect good results.

There's no one right way to teach children, because there's no one type of kid. We recognize the need for options everywhere else in life, from eateries to clothing stores to places where we live. There's no good reason to think that a world that offers hot dog carts and five-star restaurants, thrift stores and Brooks Brothers, yurts and mini-mansions, should settle for a single model of institutionalized education. Nor should we pretend that we're well-served by letting the de Blasios of the world choke off our choices.

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  1. So… the blush is already off de Blasio’s rose?

    1. Yes. Especially for whites/racists (well, it is the NYT).

      1. But the responses revealed a sharp racial divide among New Yorkers. While black and Hispanic voters overwhelmingly said they were optimistic about Mr. de Blasio’s upcoming term, only 51 percent of white voters said the same, and 45 percent of whites said they were pessimistic.

        Hmm…

  2. Where do the teachers unions get their beaks wet?

    1. Nothing stopping them from unionizing private school teachers.

      1. Well, economics, but that hasn’t ever stopped them before…

  3. Jesus, J.D., the headline of this blog post is solid FUCKING gold.

    I wish the liberty movement was centrally planned so I could reassign you to the School Choice division.

  4. I suppose I have to fault liberals for not being as willing to talk about school innovation as they should, but let’s just be clear that this entire conversation is being driven by a for-profit interest and not a social one.

    1. Yes, profit-driven business delivers better results. And?

      1. Not when we’re talking about a public good. Privatizing always ends up making things more expensive and lower quality, or at least more stratified in quality.

        1. Not when we’re talking about a public good.
          Get rid of public ‘goods’.

          Privatizing always ends up making things more expensive and lower quality

          Lies.

          more stratified in quality.

          Not a bad thing.

          1. In other words, it thinks that all children should be subjected to shitty schools. No child shall excel!

        2. Re: Tony,

          Not when we’re talking about a public good.

          NOBODY is talking about a public good, Tony, because Education is NOT a public good, but a personal choice. No amount of teaching is going to turn a stubborn dunce into a Rhodes Scholar if he’s unwilling. What you’re talking about is, in reality, a fairy tale about how showering money over a few hundreds of thousand of education and unionized bureaucrats turn all kids into Rhodes Scholars, like pixie-dust turned a pumpkin into an elegant carriage.

          Privatizing always ends up making things more expensive and lower quality,

          We have our Head-In-Sand Award winner here!!!!

          Now we know why televisions are still 5″ in diagonal and black and white – they’re “privatized”!

          1. It’s at this point that there’s no longer any use in responding to it. Sometimes I do so in order to maybe help newbies understand an idea but eventually it just gets counterproductive.

    2. LOL!

      Curse all those evil workers for the social security administration who sell their labor for a dirty profit to the government!

      And curse those bastards at Kroger selling food for a profit! Damn them to hell! Damn them to hell!

    3. Re: Tony,

      I suppose I have to fault liberals for not being as willing to talk about school innovation as they should

      Liberals will talk about only what the teacher unions want them to talk about.

      but let’s just be clear that this entire conversation is being driven by a for-profit interest and not a social one.

      What makes you think they’re mutually-exclusive? In order to obtain profits, you have to please your customers, which in the case of education, would be the kids’ parents or the students themselves. That means profit-seeking improves society.

      1. You don’t know jack shit about teachers unions.

        And your fairy tale capitalism is bullshit. The goal of profit-seeking entities is to make a profit. That’s their mandate, in fact. The goal in this conversation should be about delivering quality universal education. A completely different thing and a completely different aspect of a functioning capitalist society.

        1. Re: Tony,

          You don’t know jack shit about teachers unions.

          Wow! What a great comeback, sweetheart!

          “You don’t know jack-shit about the New York Yankees!”

          The goal of profit-seeking entities is to make a profit.

          No. Shit.

          What did I say, again? Oh, yes: “In order to obtain profits, you have to please your customers.” Where am I saying that profit-seeking is NOT about profit-seeking?

          The goal in this conversation should be about delivering quality universal education.

          So you don’t want to discuss how profit-seeking means profit-seeking anymore? You want to change the subject to a REAL fairy tale: “universal” education?

        2. The goal of profit-seeking entities is to make a profit. That’s their mandate, in fact.

          WHAT A REVELATION. No shit. They get profit by making me satisfied. Teachers unions also seek profit, but they get it through political skullduggery.

          The goal in this conversation should be about delivering quality universal education.

          The goal should be to get people like you to fuck off.

          1. They make a profit by making a profit. If that happens to involve satisfying you, that’s incidental. Sometimes it involves fucking you over, especially in an unregulated market.

            Teachers unions are a scapegoat. You always have one, don’t you? And it’s never for-profit interests. Why is that? Why are all businesses always good all the time?

            The market by itself will not and cannot deliver universal education (same as healthcare), and you guys all agree on that, which is why you contradict your principles and support the form of socialism known as vouchers.

            But it’s not a contradiction at all when you realize you’re just a bunch of stupid shills for whichever industry is piggybacking onto your bullshit at the moment.

            1. Re: Tony,

              They make a profit by making a profit.

              Ok, the meaningless tautology stopped being funny this second time around.

              In order to make a profit, you have to PLEASE A CUSTOMER. There’s no other way around it, Tony, no matter how icky and yucky you think making a profit is.

              If that happens to involve satisfying you, that’s incidental.

              No, it’s essential. Otherwise, THE OTHER GUY CAN’T MAKE A PROFIT.

              Teachers unions are a scapegoat.

              They’re populated by goats, all right.

              The market by itself will not and cannot deliver universal education

              Nobody can. There’s no such thing as “universal” education because education is a personal choice.

              which is why you contradict your principles and support the form of socialism known as vouchers.

              I don’t support vouchers.

              But it’s not a contradiction at all when you realize you’re just a bunch of stupid shills for whichever industry is piggybacking onto your bullshit at the moment.

              And so we’re back to Ad Hominem and questioning our motives. Good! Good! Feel the anger, boy!

            2. Um, why, exactly, do private schools have to be “for-profit”? I’m pretty sure the Catholic school in my town is non-profit.

              And I’m not sure, but I think the Sudbury Valley schools are non-profit.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91TfXsmW_aA

          2. Industries looking to funnel taxpayer money into their accounts, I hasten to add.

        3. And yet, history shows us the best way to get results is to allow a profit. After all, almost all of those govt school teachers are working for PROFIT, aren’t they?

          1. No, they’re sacrificing themselves for the common good, to make a better society hahahahahaaahaha I almost made it to the end.

          2. They generally work for a salary, I believe.

            1. Because you see, a surplus of wealth achieved through voluntary exchange is okay unless it starts with a “P”.

              PROFITTTTTZZZZZZZZZ!

              I’m beginning to think you’re a sock. No one’s this stupid unless it’s on purpose.

            2. Re: Tony,

              They generally work for a salary, I believe.

              Ok, I lost count how many times I gave this Watchtower salesman a free course in economics, but here it is again:

              Working for a salary has to be profitable for the person, Tony. The salary must be higher in value for the person than the time he or she could spend doing something else, like playing videogames or having long walks on the beach.

              Don’t think of “profit” in financial terms; this is Economics, where satisfaction does not come in the form of money only.

        4. The goal in this conversation should be about delivering quality universal education.

          Actually, “universal education” is exactly what’s wrong with public school. The last thing students need is a one-size-fits-all curriculum. This is particularly true of tweens and teens.

          1. Kids that age learn in different ways. One of my daughters learns the traditional, school-approved way. Show her the forest, and she’ll learn to understand the trees. My other daughter needed just the opposite. First study individual trees, then work on getting the forest. Public schools show no interest whatsoever in tailoring programs for round pegs they can’t pound into their square holes.
          2. Students have different talents and will end up in different careers. Public schools want everyone stuffed into identical STEM programs, physics and chemistry, even though society also needs sales people and business managers.

          The goal should be to deliver quality individual education suited to the needs of the individual student.

          let’s just be clear that this entire conversation is being driven by a for-profit interest and not a social one

          Really? As opposed to the public school’s constant focus on Moar Funding the article proposes giving parents more control. How is that about profit?

  5. children should acquire marketable skills as they learn — something that equips them to function in a world that increasingly requires some knowledge of science and math.

    What are the skills to hold signs demanding an increase in the minimum wage, chopped liver?

  6. There’s no one right way to teach children, because there’s no one type of kid.

    Schooling, especially public schooling was never about allowing each kid to learn anything at his or her own pace but to provide businesses with educated workers without having to pay for training, while at the same time obtaining good, obedient Christian (and now secular) citizens that will not question anything. Socializing costs, privatizing profits.

    My wife (a former teacher) and I strive to deprogram my kid as much as possible, every time he comes back from school, like one would deprogram the victim of a paranoid religious sect. The religion in this case is Statism, an example of a believer being our resident Watchtower salesman, Tony.

  7. Indeed, choose what you want. Also, don’t force me to pay for it, thanks. Fuck publics and charters alike with their theft of taxpayer money.

  8. The Quinnipiac poll shows just another example of how much better Republicans are than Democrats for individual liberty: the split over whether pre-K ed should be mandatory for kids or optional.

    A lot of libertarian activists don’t want to believe this partisan difference, but it shows up time & time again. I wasn’t convinced until I saw Don Ernsberger’s analysis 20 yrs. ago in LP News. He’d expected to find no overall difference, or at least to find Democrats better than Republicans on “personal” freedom, but to his surprise he found out that Republicans in Congress were much better overall on their voting record. And if you can’t trust Don Ernsberger for fair analysis of individual liberty, who can you?

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