School Choice

Detroit Teachers Hold Mass 'Sick Out,' Abandon 46,000 Kids

Why all kids deserve school choice.

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bad teacher

On Wednesday, hundreds of Detroit public school teachers called in sick and refused to go to work—citing "deplorable" conditions in the city's crumbling school system. Their actions forced officials to close 90 percent of the school district: classes were cancelled for about 46,000 kids.

As The Daily Signal's Lindsey Burke points out, just 4,000 of those kids are proficient in reading, and their graduation rate sits at a pathetic 7 out of 10. And while the teachers may be right that their schools are in terrible shape, inadequate funding simply isn't the problem: the district spends roughly $16,000 per pupil each year.

The teachers have apparently returned to work today, despite promises from one union leader to continue the strike, according to CNN:

An attorney for the Detroit Public Schools has asked a judge to issue a restraining order and preliminary injunction to force teachers to stop sickouts and return to work, according to court documents filed Wednesday.

The motion names the Detroit Federation of Teachers, interim teachers union president Ivy Bailey and 23 Detroit Public Schools teachers.

"DPS has requested the court's intervention in addressing the ongoing teacher sickouts that are plaguing the district," Michelle Zdrodowski, the spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools said in a statement.

The teachers union responded to the filing, noting "Detroit deserves better."

"It is regrettable that the Detroit Public Schools seeks to punish those who speak out about the deplorable conditions in our schools," Bailey said. "It would be so much more productive to actually do something to fix Detroit schools rather than file restraining orders against those who expose the miserable conditions."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has vowed a new wave of reforms, consolidations, and new management strategies to fix the school district. But he's just really rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Everyone knows that Detroit Public Schools are broken beyond hope because the government can't run inner city schools.  Bureaucrats are destined to fail, no matter how hard they try.

There's a better way: take the money that would have been used to patch holes on a sinking ship and give it back to the kids so that they can buy an actually worthwhile education. Let families decide which schools best serve their children's needs, instead of their zip codes.

As it so happens, this week is National School Choice Week, and Reason is hosting events around the country to celebrate the idea that kids deserve choice and control over their own futures. Tonight's event is in Washington, D.C. at Capitale. Go here for more information.

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  1. “7 out of 10”

    Detroit public schools have a 70% graduation rate? I find that very hard to believe.

    1. They can graduate high school if they can meet elementary school standards

    2. Huh. According to wiki, they have a graduation rate of 68%. I call shenanigans.

      1. They play with those numbers. It’s probably more like 68% of kids still in school on the day of graduation get a diploma.

        I love to see the real number, meaning the number of kids on the first day of ninth grade vs. the number that receive a diploma.

    3. Graduate should have been in scare quotes.

  2. No, that’s a good teacher. A very, very good teacher.

    1. It seems like a lot of people have “hot teacher” stories from high school. I missed out. All of my HS teachers looked like they’d fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

      1. Mr Clements had a Rock Hudson jawline and blue eyes. A touch of scruff, just enough that a high school English teacher could get away with.

        That rat bastard openly stated that he graded me several levels harder than the rest of the kids. I should track him down and hate-fuck him.

        1. “I could stand to hear a little more…”

            1. Yeah, that’s a good-looking bastard.

      2. I had a French teacher who was fresh out of college. Very cute in a 80s kinda way. And I was one of the three men in the class – great place to be for female attention.

      3. Oh man… Ms. Stafford… my 10th grade history teacher. Fresh out of college, had some really sexy legs and tight butt, was a little light in the sweater but I’m sure it was plenty to enjoy. Usually she wore slacks to class but one day she was sporting a skirt and forgot to adjust how she was sitting while while teaching. Myself and three other young men in the first two rows got a good couple minutes of voyeuristic goodness. I have no idea how the Russian revolution started because that lesson was drowned out by the view of some panties that had shifted a bit too far to the side.

  3. …the district spends roughly $16,000 per pupil each year.

    I assume teacher salaries are included in that figure.

    1. Just think about that for a second. For a single classroom of 20 children the district spends $320,000!!!!!

      1. Over a quarter of a million dollars a year to teach twenty kindergartners their ABC’s!!!!

        And people claim that public schools are not EVIL.

        1. No.
          A quarter million to NOT teach them squat.

          1. My first-grader can do multiplication in his head. If anyone thinks that has anything to do with the amount of money spent on his education, or the public school systems, I have a drink to offer them and promise to respect you in the morning.

            1. I have a drink to offer them and promise to respect you in the morning.

              Go on.

            2. Your English teacher really got you randy today, huh?

            3. From personal experience, give him out-of-school work that actually meets his intelligence.

              I still have work ethic issues that are traceable to being 3 grades ahead in math and 5 grades ahead in reading through elementary school. From ages 5-9, I was learning how to get remedial work done with minimal effort while most of my peers were learning work ethic. It certainly bit me in the ass later in life.

            4. “My first-grader can do multiplication in his head”

              Consider yourself blessed. I have a third grader who is awesome but has learning disabilities. She’s in a top-10 public school in the state and her parents are both successful people who had no problems with school. She’s young for her class, which I think has some impact on her struggles.

              It’s tough because she does a lot of work at school and I know she needs extra work, but it’s hard to beat her up (she’s very stubborn — it’s a defense mechanism) with additional schoolwork every night.

      2. What is funny is how dumb the teachers are.

        They sit there and take their $60,000 salaries and pray the union can protect them.

        But if we eliminated public schools and just did 100% school choice that teacher could rent out a space in a strip mall and open up a school, hire full time assistant and take on the same 20 students and after paying her expenses she’d easily be pocketing $160,000 a year

        1. ^This^

          They could abolish the public school system, give every pupil a $16,000 a year education grant, and free the market so that any licensed* teacher could open up a school in a strip mall or wherever, and not only would those teachers probably make more money, the kids would get a better education due to the competitive nature of the market, and parents would be far happier having some say in where their kids are educated and by whom.

          *Ideally, anyone would be able to open a school, not just state approved licensed teachers, but the state isn’t going to give up all of their gatekeeper authority. Plus parents would probably still be put off by the notion of “just anyone” being able to open a school (what with “pedophiles behind every tree” and all).
          After all, only journalists have reputations to fall back on and therefore don’t need licensing schemes.

          1. But the teacher would have to be competent. You’re asking too much of these fine public servants.

  4. As much as I hate teacher’s unions and the way government wastes money on schools, changing all of that will have little effect. The culture that pervades inner city minority schools, and to a lesser extent poor white rural schools, can only be fixed at home. The government can’t fix that. Wisconsin teacher’s almost went on strike because the students have become so violent that teachers are being physically assaulted by kids as young as 13 as onlookers cheer on. The biggest reason black kids get suspended more is because they deserve to be suspended more. Poverty does not explain it. There are more poor white people than black people in this country. Poor rural white people do have similar anti-education and anti-establishment views, but you do not see the same stuff happening there. Truth hurts.

    1. This seems, at first blush, akin to the argument that black people are disproportionately represented in crime statistics, ergo are inherently criminal, by the same people who readily concede American justice and law and order are bullshit oppression and money-grab schemes.

      1. Agreed, but I’ve witnessed a cultural allergy to academic achievement among Mexican people too often to believe it’s not a common thing. And my experience has mostly been in suburbs, so can’t speak to other communities. It saddens me to see kids with even the slightest interest in English (lit, not language) and STEM shamed for acting white.

        1. I’ve witnessed issues myself, thus the qualifying language. Back out the statistics where the government shouldn’t have been involved in the first place, and then we’ll have some numbers that could conceivably be useful. I’m not convinced of “cultural ignorance”, but neither will I rule it out until we see something more concrete than the wishy-washy shit examples and false correlations currently in popular use by both camps.

    2. colorblindkid|1.21.16 @ 10:01AM|#
      “As much as I hate teacher’s unions and the way government wastes money on schools, changing all of that will have little effect. The culture that pervades inner city minority schools, and to a lesser extent poor white rural schools, can only be fixed at home.”

      If that was true, there is no need for teachers anyway; the outcome it preordained. Fortunately, it’s not:
      “The fifth-graders at Broadous Elementary School come from the same world ? the poorest corner of the San Fernando Valley,
      […]
      Yet year after year, one fifth-grade class learns far more than the other down the hall. The difference has almost nothing to do with the size of the class, the students or their parents.
      It’s their teachers.”
      http://www.latimes.com/local/l…..story.html

    3. There is certainly a cultural aspect to it beyond just poverty. I don’t know that poor rural whites are a good direct comparison to poor urban blacks though. Should also look at poor urban whites and poor rural blacks. There are a whole lot of difficult to isolate factors involved.

  5. On Wednesday, hundreds of Detroit public school teachers called in sick and refused to go to work

    Pretty sure every teacher who wasn’t actually sick just committed fraud.

    Fraud on the government is generally a crime.

    I look forward to the mass indictment. With RICO, of course, since this is organized and there were ample “predicate acts”.

    1. Parents would face criminal and/or civil violations. And teachers are the same as parents, amirite? Isn’t that what they’re telling us these days?

      Washington had a sick-out school cancellation last year. Even the kids were talking about how it didn’t have anything to do with “for the kids”; it was for the teachers, screw the kids.

      1. Even the kids were talking about how it didn’t have anything to do with “for the kids”; it was for the teachers, screw the kids.

        Perhaps there’s hope for them yet.

  6. There’s a better way: take the money that would have been used to patch holes on a sinking ship and give it back to the kids so that they can buy an actually worthwhile education. Let families decide which schools best serve their children’s needs, instead of their zip codes.

    While this method could be infinitesimally better it remains a wealth transfer which besides being immoral is also extremely inefficient. Polish on a turd.

    Until “families” determine what their children actually need by, you know, paying for it with their own money, the system will continue to suck.

    1. Hey Marshall,

      What do you think of the externalities argument for public funding of education? It’s difficult to imagine you haven’t heard it, so it seems you must have rejected it for some reason or another.
      I’m haven’t made up my mind on this issue, so I’m curious.

      1. Externalities are generally Socialist myth. Because they can not point to actual facts, they assume some secret unknown. Unfortunately, this is not the same as “the unseen” as described by Bastiat. “It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.” The same is true for education.

        They suppose that people will simply not educate their children if someone else doesn’t pay for it, which is absurd on it’s face. There is also the assumption that those of low intelligence somehow benefit from schooling of which they are not qualified, also absurd. Here is an actual study about coerced funding and compulsory education.

        http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/de…..223pdf.pdf

        Ultimately, stealing from my neighbors to educate my children is immoral. “Externalities” are simply an attempt to rationalize evil.

        Again from Bastiat

        The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.

        1. “Externalities are generally Socialist myth.”
          Are you referring to externalities related to state education, or externalities period?
          Because while I may be able to get on board if you are talking about state education, I’m not sure if I can get on board if it is so broad as saying that nearly every externality is a bogus fabrication of socialists.

          1. I said, “generally”. You will have to be more specific about what you consider “externalities” to be. I am not sure if I have ever heard of the term used to describe unplanned positive results, only negative ones.

            In the case of education, externalities are usually claimed to be things like “everyone will be illiterate” or “employers will have to pay to educate people” with nothing more than the claim as evidence. The “externality” of parents being more conscientious about their children’s education if they were personally responsible for it, sure, I know it from experience.

      2. What do you think of the externalities argument for public funding of education?

        The part where a significant number of public schools churn out uneducated and nearly illiterate future wards of the state?

        Yes, that is a significant externality of public funding of education.

        1. Hi again Kbolino!
          I think that is more a function of the public administration of education. We need to make a distinction between public funding of education and public administration of education.

          1. The distinction is only relevant if there is a meaningful amount of choice upon the part of the participants (the students, if they are old enough, and the parents otherwise) in how the money gets spent.

            As noted below in the discussion about charter schools, if the money comes with too many restrictions then you have “public administration” in all but name anyway.

            1. Agreed.
              Me personally? I’m a huge fan of homeschooling. Even if I could accept public funding of schooling on principle, I very seriously doubt the state would be so magnanimous as to let homeschool parents spend their “voucher” money on whatever they deem appropriate to educate their children.

      3. Public systems tend to have more externalities than private ones. With private enterprise, there’s a three way balance of power between customers, employees, and owners. “Externalities” tend to affect people who don’t fall into one of those categories.

        However, with government, the bargaining power of “customers” (whether considered to be voters, taxpayers, or service receivers, each of which fulfills part of that role) is so greatly reduced that for all intents and purposes, they’re barely a party to the negotiation between “owners” (the political elites) and employees. As a result, everything not related to employee compensation, hiring, and union support for politicians is more or less an externality.

    2. The problem is that public education, or at least public funding of education is extremely popular. Most people believe it to be the foundation of the prosperity we enjoy.
      We might see more vouchers and charter schools, but I think eliminating public education entirely is very low on the list of libertarian things likely to happen.

  7. Given the condition that Detroit is in, I’m very doubtful that the teacher’s union will be able to squeeze more property tax money out of the taxpayers. So what is it the union expects?

    1. Fedbucks, most likely.

      1. We have a winner!

        And, most likely, 300-odd million losers.

      2. We have a winner!

        And, most likely, 300-odd million losers.

    2. Did they ever sell the art collection?

    3. hand jobs

  8. “An attorney for the Detroit Public Schools has asked a judge to issue a restraining order and preliminary injunction to force teachers to stop sickouts and return to work, according to court documents filed Wednesday.”

    Instead of ordering people to work against their will, on pain of imprisonment, the court should do this* –

    Require every teacher who called in sick Wednesday to come into court with a doctor’s note.

    If they don’t have doctor’s note proving they were actually sick, they should explain to the court, one by one, what specific condition they had which coincidentally kept them out of school on a day when teachers were engaging in massive fake sick leaves.

    If any teaching fails to provide an adequate explanation, fire the person.

    *Nowadays nobody worries about the dangers of judicial activism, anyway.

    1. This is the dumbest fucking idea ever.

      As a grown man if an employer ever required a doctors note from me what they would receive instead is my resignation. Even ignoring the obvious violation of my right to privacy though, this would result in precisely 0 teachers being fired.

      Why?

      “Oh I had horrible diarrhea and vomiting, not sure if it was a 24 hour virus or something I ate but I was better by the next day so I didn’t even bother to call the Dr.”

      Now it is up to YOU to disprove it

      1. Generally I’d agree, but in this case there was an openly-announced plan for healthy employees to call in sick *en masse.*

        After that call, large numbers of employees did, indeed, call in sick on that day.

        Either there was a coincidental mass outbreak of one-day flu, or there were a lot of healthy people faking illness.

        Under those specific circumstances, yes, require each employee who called in sick that day to show they really *were* sick.

        I hope you didn’t think I was advocating that approach for every employee who called in sick, ever!

        1. Also, I would assume that your work creates more value than the work of a Detroit public school teacher.

          Thus, your employer would actually have in interest in keeping you happy.

          In contrast, the Detroit schools don’t seem to benefit from keeping these teachers happy – as the students’ grades demonstrate.

          1. Lol well, my skills certainly have the possibility of doing so, I often question the wisdom of how it is utilized by my employers however

            1. I wasn’t trying to flatter you, or damn you with faint praise, I was just saying what is most likely the truth. 🙂

  9. So…….EIGHT percent of students are proficient at reading, and “ONLY” 70% of students graduate? Seems about right.

    1. Metro Detroiter here. They don’t ‘graduate’ many students, but rather process them through 12th grade.

      1. “D’s for degrees!”

  10. Fire all of the Public School Teachers in America !!!

    Let’s bring school choice and make the parents pay for it.

    Why the FUCK should I have to pay to educate other people’s kids.

    People will think TWICE before having kids if they know that they’ll have to pay $15k per year to educate them.
    And get rid of the laws that require that children have to go to school.
    School is not for everyone. If I choose to not send my kids to school and spend the money on a BMW, that’s my business. This is a free country.

    1. I suppose we should get rid of CPS too? I mean, if you choose to keep your children in a basement with no light, no human interaction, and give them nothing but bread and water, that is your business too?
      You have an obligation to your children. They are not your property, but your wards.
      Or do you reject idea of any responsibility whatsoever?

      1. When did you stop beating your wife, Allen?

        1. Tuesday. It was Tuesday.

      2. I suppose we should get rid of CPS too?

        If you commit criminal child abuse or neglect, seems like we have a law enforcement system that can handle that.

        If you don’t commit criminal child abuse or neglect, why should any state agency get involved?

        1. Ah, yes. I agree. Barring neglect or abuse, the state need not get involved. But define neglect? Neglecting to give your child food and water seems reasonable. But what about neglecting to give your child any education whatsoever? Is that neglect?
          My point here isn’t that the state should be involved in schooling. My point is that a parent has a responsibility.

          1. My point is that a parent has a responsibility.

            And who is going to enforce it?

            The answer was, prior to the advent of the therapeutic-welfare state, the (extended) family, community, and if necessary church.

            But after systematically tearing down those institutions, the state has so nobly appointed itself in their place.

      3. The agency that is seven times more likely to abuse children than the child’s own parents, and is held completely unaccountable for perpetrating abuse. Most kids are not in foster care for nebulous claims of “abuse” anyways, but for the much lesser crime of “neglect”, which means anything from missing a well-child dentist six-month checkup to letting your kid walk to school.

        Sure. That sounds like a fine idea, and you can’t possibly be trolling with lazy, weak provocations.

        1. Hi Hamster of Doom.
          No trolling here. I wasn’t defending CPS specifically, or it’s practices. Just the supposed general function of CPS; protecting children from abuse or neglect (Actual neglect, not bogus neglect, as you outlined.) Sorry if that got lost in the fray.
          I’m with you though, CPS as an agency is crap.

          1. It became more clear with your follow-ups that you weren’t actually championing CPS. Don’t mind me. I can be hot-headed.

      4. I suppose we should get rid of CPS too?

        Abso-fucking-lutely.

        You have an obligation to your children. They are not your property, but your wards.

        And if it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, in a court of law, that you were criminally negligent with your children, then they can be legally emancipated (if old enough) or assigned a different guardian.

        Maybe we can start by acknowledging that CPS and family law are glorified witch hunts which generally target the most vulnerable parents and result in worse outcomes for the children.

        1. Don’t think I’m a fan of CPS. I’m not defending the agency, only it’s supposed function. 80% of the cases I hear about from CPS are exactly what you say. B.S. witch hunts. But the supposed function of CPS is something which, apparently, you support. Removing children from home’s of abusive or criminally negligent parents.
          So CPS oversteps its bounds far too often. So does the military.
          So yes, I will agree with you. CPS and family law are generally glorified witch hunts.
          So let me rephrase the question.
          Should we remove CPS and it’s supposed function from government entirely, or replace it with another agency with better people, better practices, and a nice new name, etc…?

          1. Do you accept Blackstone’s Formulation (better to let 10 guilty men go free than to punish 1 innocent man)?

            If so, then the answer is simple: abolish CPS and let the police and private citizens handle it. Gladys Kravitz having to collect evidence and present it to a prosecutor and/or grand jury is a superior solution than having her drop an anonymous and unsubstantiated “tip” to CPS, who then show up and make everyone’s life a living hell. Family courts have ridiculously low standards of evidence and are mostly procedural theaters in which it is more important to genuflect than prove anything.

            Accept that a lot of seriously abused children will not be helped (which, sadly enough, is the case with CPS to this very day) and that everyone, including allegedly abusive parents, is entitled to due process before the law.

            1. Hey Kbolino!
              I’m not sure about Blackstone’s Formulation specifically. It seems too formulaic to me. (A formula is to formulaic? Big surprise, I know.)
              But I do believe in innocent until proven guilty.
              I do believe that police and prosecutors would be far superior to our current breed of “social workers” which offer very little procedural justice.
              But even with police and prosecutors replacing CPS as an agency, it does not remove child protective services (note the lack of capitalization) as a function of government. There is still some arm of the state charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect. And that’s what I was getting at.
              There’s a huge difference between getting rid of CPS altogether, and replacing CPS as an agency.

              1. You are looking at it backwards. The job of the government is not to protect children. That is the job of parents. The job of the government, insofar as it has one, is to punish the parents who fail to do their job. But that is a very narrow function and has to be judiciously exercised, because underage children need guardians and the government is no guardian.

                1. Here, I think we diverge a little, but not much.
                  It IS the job of the government to protect children, but the government is the “protector of last resort.”
                  The protector of first resort is the parents.
                  Secondly, the job of the government cannot be only to punish parents who fail to do their job. They must, if agreement can be found through no other means, arbitrate between disputing parties who the next guardian will be. (And perhaps keep the child as a ward during the arbitration process.) Though it is a minor role, it is still more broad than simply punishing the parents.
                  But on the whole I agree. The state has a very narrow function.

      5. FYI, the person you’re responding to is a troll who was engaging in a ridiculous strawman/ reductio ad-absurdum argument.with the libertarians in their head.

        1. Hi Loki!
          I assume you’re referring to me.
          If I was engaging straw men, it wasn’t on purpose. I was asking a question to test the boundaries of his /her ideology. That’s all.
          And the libertarian in my head is me. I’m a libertarian. (Though maybe not so advanced in my ideological formation as some.)
          Not trying to be a troll. Sorry if it came off that way. Didn’t realize my post would be so inflammatory. Haha.

          1. Actually I was referring to “David Bowie (RIP)” as a troll. They used to post here as “Alice Bowie” (a combination of Alice Cooper and David Bowie) and are a progressive who likes to show up here and troll occasionally. I don’t think you’re a troll. You seem to argue in good faith, whereas Bowie doesn’t very often. I didn’t recognize your screen name so I thought you might be new here and not realize who the trolls are. That’s all.

            1. Ahh, I see. That makes sense.
              You’re right that I’m new, to the comment section anyway. Good eye.
              Thanks Loki!

    2. If I choose to not send my kids to school and spend the money on a BMW, that’s my business.

      If those are your priorities, I doubt your kids were going to be doing very well, anyway.

      1. Unless he’s homeschooling them to be BMW mechanics, in which case they’ll probably do quite well.

        1. If he can actually maintain a modern BMW on his own, then he’s a goddamn mechanical genius.

          1. The funniest thing about that comment is that apparently he thinks that you can afford a BMW on $15,000 a year. No. No you can’t.

              1. Make car payments, auto insurance payments, keep gas in the car, and pay for all routine and non-routine maintenance for $15,000 a year or less.

                I hadn’t given it much thought or analysis, so I don’t know if that’s really doable or not. I was just snarking on the idea of “affording,” as defined above, a car that is usually understood to be expensive, and require a lot of expensive maintenance.

    3. “People will think TWICE before having kids if they know that they’ll have to pay $15k per year to educate them.”

      Ha, no, they just won’t educate them. Or (if the government is truly strict with enforcement) they won’t have them, and government will solve the imminent collapse of its Ponzi scheme by importing foreign laborers whose parents didn’t pay to educate them. Same dif, really.

      1. Ha, no, they just won’t educate them.

        There will always be some segment of the population that will not care about its children. The important part is not to subsidize their bad choices, which means perhaps most especially phasing out and abolishing programs like TANF and WIC, and any refundable tax credits for minor dependents.

      2. Or perhaps they’ll educate them in a truly useful fashion, e.g. teach them a trade. This would be infinitely more valuable to society than creating yet another SJW.

      3. they just won’t educate them

        Actually, most will. If you take away government coercion and compulsion, the numbers don’t really change. At least they didn’t when public schools were initiated.

        http://www.iea.org.uk/sites/de…..223pdf.pdf

        It is a study of literacy rates in England and the US before and after compulsory education. The literacy rate in Mass. was higher before universal compulsory public schools than it is today.

  11. “It would be so much more productive to actually do something to fix Detroit schools rather than file restraining orders against those who expose the miserable conditions.”

    Yeah, but the union makes it impossible to fire your sorry asses.

  12. Replace them with robots.
    Heavily armored robots.

    1. “You have twenty months to graduate.”

      1. “Take a quiz, creep.”

  13. their graduation rate sits at a pathetic 7 out of 10.

    And in all likelihood at least 6 of those 7 who “graduate” can barely read beyond a 5th grade level, and can barely do basic arithmetic. Algebra and higher math is right out.

    I’m sure the teacher’s union is correct that Detroit schools suck, but they’re largely responsible for making it that way.

    1. I’m sure the teacher’s union is correct that Detroit schools suck, but they’re largely responsible for making it that way.

      This cannot be stressed enough. The teachers’ union contracts should have been drastically scaled back over the decades while Detroit’s tax base was shrinking, and the union should have been decertified if it refused to play ball.

      The only thing that tempers my opposition to public-sector unions is the realization that the tools are already in place to deal with intransigent unions, but nobody is willing to exercise them. Banning pubsec unions, while probably a step in the right direction, won’t solve the underlying problems that enabled them to become such bloated parasites in the first place.

  14. School system should have a job-out.

  15. While I agree that the DPS is a disaster area I do feel the need to point out that a sizeable percentage of the schools in Detroit are actually charter schools. I can’t easily find a percentage, but nearly 100 Detroit elementary and secondary schools are charter schools. And they don’t have a significantly better graduation rate than the DPS does. Some of this is probably cultural, as someone upthread suggested, and some of it is probably related to the fact that the charter school system here invites cronyism, but Detroit is not a good advertisement for the superiority of charter schools.

    1. Well, that, and the fact that pretty much everywhere state law and policy concerning charters sets them up to fail.

    2. Well, the charter label does not equate to better; it equates to getting to do stuff out of the traditional structure and bureaucracy of the school system.

      Just because you GET to doesn’t mean you ARE.

      LA actually has a weird checkedboard. Some of oldest and earliest charters run basically as public schools- shit, one may still be union.

    3. the charter school system here invites cronyism

      It’s Detroit, I wouldn’t expect anything different.

    4. Detroit is not a good advertisement for the superiority of charter schools

      To the extent that charter schools can function superior to “traditional” public schools, they have to be able to experiment in ways that are impossible (by law, policy, or institutional momentum) for public schools. If they are constrained to basically be clones of public schools but with different window dressing, then they can’t really accomplish anything. In a lot of places where charter schools exist, the teachers’ unions and education bureaucracies rarely allow them much room to experiment.

  16. As someone going in to teaching, fuck Detroit teachers.

    Take on the beaurcracy that causes shit like 15k per kid to be spent in Baltimore in 2011, then actually spends that money on shit like 200k for the supers driver.

    Seriously, before demanding more money, we should review what we are dojng with the current level of resources and see how well we are using them.

    SLD, but, if we hypothetically accept public spending on things like education (which I may have to in the first few years till I find a nice private – which in the world of education generally pays less, has less benefits, but gets more resources in the classroom-one day I will rant about it), I think demanding fiscal accountablity and making sure the money actually gets to- the poor, the classroom, etc- is a vital way as libertarians in a non-libertarian society to at least slow and check state and especially tax growth.

    1. I agree. If we can’t get our preferred system the next best situation would be for libertarians to be hard budget Hawks.

    2. as someone going in to teaching

      I tell my children if they want to change the world they should start with themselves. The rest of your post is simply rationalizing what you know to be evil. Which is exactly what “Yeah but they did it first” is.

      You are not vested into the profession at this time, yet, for the money, you will “work” for the union and the perpetuation of the system?! It isn’t like you have been there for a couple decades and have something to lose. You have been here how long and yet you are knowingly going into the “fuck the taxpayer” business?

      Public school teachers are fucking turd thieves. It doesn’t matter if they are my sister or a “libertarian”.

  17. Detroit Teachers Hold Mass ‘Sick Out,’ Abandon 46,000 Kids

    Or you could re-write: Detroit’s Children Set Free, Teachers Hold Mass ‘Sick Out’.

  18. Another aspect of this mess (which is not confined to Detroit) is the abysmal curriculum that pervades Schools of Education at almost all universities.

    It’s also quite embarrassing attending commencement when nearly 80% of education majors graduate cum laude.

    1. My eyes were opened wide when I got to college. All my awful high school teachers had one thing in common, degrees in education. I didn’t know why until I met a bunch of education majors in college. They were fun to party with, but they would party 7 days a week. They knew the bar specials better than the bartenders. I would take a break from spending hours in the computer lab on a Tuesday evening to grab dinner, and there all the education majors were, lined up at the bar across the street, ready for another night of booze, dancing, and rape (as defined by the Department of Education ).

      I don’t decry their approach to college, but I do decry the fact that they’re somehow entrusted with developing young minds. I wouldn’t trust half of them with my coffee order.

      1. Just to preempt acosmist’s inevitable whining, not all teachers are education majors (not that you implied they were). However, the education credentialists are making greater and greater inroads to the profession and doing what they can to discourage non-education majors from entering the field.

  19. There’s a better way: take the money that would have been used to patch holes on a sinking ship and give it back to the kids so that they can buy an actually worthwhile education.

    Well, so far Reason hasn’t been able to provide any evidence to support that idea. I sometimes check the reported “miracle” schools on greatschools.org, and the “miracles” still suck.

    That’s because “failing schools” are really just schools with lots of stupid students, and Reason’s anti-science SJWs can’t admit that “Genes don’t just influence your IQ?they determine how well you do in school”

    1. So what is your “science” based solution?

      1. Quit pretending that all kids and all groups of people are the same.
        Stop wasting money pretending to “graduate” kids who can’t read.

        As S. Pinker said “Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and saccharine romances in which all loose ends are tied and everyone lives happily ever after. Life is nothing like that, we note, and we look to the arts for edification about the painful dilemmas of the human condition. Yet, when it comes to the science of human beings, this same audience says: Give us schmaltz!”

    2. 1) social “science” is hardly science
      2) correlation =/= causation
      3) shitty science journalism based on mediocre social science studies is like playing the telephone game through two cups connected by a string
      4) twin studies have very limited applicability when making generalizations about large population groups.
      5) the idea that the genetic indicators associated with stupidity just happen to be massively overrepresented in small clusters of urban population is laughable.

      1. Nice “schmaltz” you got there.

        1 – Except for cognitive science. But liberals don’t like it, so it’s not mentioned in the NYT (or Reason).
        2 – non sequitur.
        3 – SJWs don’t like genetics.
        4 – Cite?
        5 – Cite?

        1. Cite for #5 – “Effects of urban flight on IQ distribution”:
          “Not unexpectedly we found a cognitive discontinuity at the city line. Surprising, however, was its magnitude. Whereas suburban mean IQs (86 for blacks, 99 for whites) conform more or less to national norms, city IQs are dreadfully low. With a mean IQ of 76, inner-city blacks fall about 0.6 SD below the African American average nationally. More than a third have death-penalty immunity on grounds of mental retardation. The inner-city white mean of 86 is nearly a full standard deviation below the national white average.”

    3. Dude, libertarians blaming human inequality on the government is fucking hilarious. Just sit back and enjoy the show.

      Everyone knows that Detroit Public Schools are broken beyond hope because the government can’t run inner city schools.

      I mean, that’s just pure lulz. Enjoy it for what it is.

      1. I’m still waiting for some solutions…

        1. Solutions for what?

          1. Shitty schools

            You know, the topic of the thread…

            1. Oh that’s easy. Do the same thing my elementary school did. The school was on some type of warning list for state intervention almost every year. Busing ended. Then the school was on the state’s special snowflake list.

              1. You want to make your point, or just dance around it some more?

                1. Well, I thought I was pretty clear.

                  The kids in Detroit are dumb. Genetically low IQ. The schools didn’t cause that and they can’t fix that. The solution, to the extent it exists, is for everyone to get over this Horatio Alger shit and teach the dumb kids to hang drywall.

                  1. When did libertarians unlearn what Rothbard called “home truths” and turn to this SJW blank slate narrative?

                    1. WTF are you harping on about?

                      The Detroit City government collects taxes to run schools, places that are supposed to impart literacy and numeracy and grant certificates attesting to such. They almost certainly collect Federal and state money for this purpose, and they employ a large number of people and have negotiated contracts to the same end.

                      If the kids cannot even been taught how to read, then they should shut the fucking schools down and stop carrying on the charade.

                      Why don’t you start talking like someone who believes that people are born free and equal in rights, and not someone who thinks the goal of government is to put the idiots in their proper places.

                    2. Government schools need to GTFO because they steal productive people’s money and give it to progs to indoctrinate kids. Beyond that, I think we’re at a fundamental impasse over the fixability of stupid.

                    3. Beyond that, I think we’re at a fundamental impasse over the fixability of stupid.

                      I’m not saying the schools should be expected to churn out prospective theoretical physicists. But it is not unrealistic to expect their graduates to be able to read, write, and perform arithmetic.

                    4. For clarity:

                      There’s nothing wrong with hanging drywall, or doing any other trade that can be plied for compensation. If that is the sort of thing that the current residents of Detroit can realistically aspire to, then admitting that fact is not out of order.

                      However, it doesn’t take a massive city government and educational bureaucracy to accomplish any of that. It doesn’t take rules and regulations. All it takes is the right incentives, which governments like that of Detroit have proven themselves inimical towards.

    4. Of course genes are a major factor. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make any difference at all how people are educated.

      1. Yea, the “inner city” pedagogy needs to be scrapped in favor of the “Chinese students technically in the inner city but that’s not what ‘inner city’ really means” pedagogy.

  20. If you want your kid to grow up and be a good Christian send them to a Christian school, if you want them to grow up and be a good SJW send them to a government school.

  21. If you want your kid to grow up and be a good Christian send them to a Christian school, if you want them to grow up and be a good SJW send them to a government school.

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