The dictionary tells me socialism refers to “economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods”, and it’s in that sense I’m opposed to it. Governments running things tend to be bloated, expensive, and prone to incompetence and corruption.
Redistribution of wealth or income to pay for societal benefits is not inherently related to capitalism vs socialism. You can tax people and offer welfare, healthcare, military defense or whatever, and if the government is not also the one administering the benefits (ie VA running hospitals for vets), you can have the benefit recipients make a free choice of who to provide their service with the funds they’re given (ie pick your Obamacare insurance company and then whatever private doctors they cover).
I guess I’m considering earned income as falling under means of production and redistribution of money as distribution of goods (regardless of choice in vendor of goods). No idea if this is a completely valid way of thinking about it, though.
Maybe these social programs fit better described as communist instead. For schools, that’s taking from higher income or asset owners and those with no or few children and redistributing to families with low income and/or those with many children.
For social security, there’s a redistribution on income (since it’s not 1:1 but progressive), but also a much larger redistribution disproportionately taking from those who never married and passing a windfall (if you’re looking at the present value of the “insurance”/annuity) to only those who married through spousal and survivorship benefits.
Are you sure about that? People would probably have fewer children if they couldn’t afford to educate them. It’s already happening – women (and therefore couples) in developed countries are having fewer children and having them later in life, after they’ve established careers and made some money to responsibly support their family. Obviously not everyone, but enough for a statistically noticeable difference.
And people who don’t have children complain about paying property taxes!
I’m not one to think inequality is a bad thing, nor something you can prevent from arising without stripping everyone of their freedom entirely ala Harrison Bergeron. Parents now can pay extra for private schools or private tutors etc. that’s what money is for - more of whatever you value for yourself or your family, be it education, healthcare, flashy cars, etc.
It’s also important to distinguish between unequal opportunities and unequal outcomes. A studious student in the same class as a lazy student may go on to have a better job and live a nicer life and that’s fine - the point was the other student had the same chance to learn.
What we want as a society that values education and opportunity is to offer a reasonable standard of public education to everyone. This won’t be equal, some private schools will still be better (just as people can pay for tutors or better doctors than Medicare covers, etc), but the minimum should be a decent school where someone with a desire to succeed and learn can do so, and that’s very much not what we have today. Right now, many poor kids go to public schools that are at best glorified day care centers and standardized test scores in terms of reading and math proficiency are abysmal. Here’s NYC where just over half of all public school students fail basic skills.
NYC public schools are highly segregated and performance likewise.
In math, 74.4 percent [of Asian students] made the grade, followed by white students at 66.6, Hispanics at 33.2 and African Americans at 28.2.
However, the charter schools there like Success Academy have had excellent results (even?) with poor minority students (not that the Asian students in NYC public schools arent poor minorities either).
Such charter school results undermine theories of genetic determinism, claims of cultural bias in the tests and assertions that racial “integration” is necessary for blacks to reach educational parity with whites.
The success of New York City’s charter schools is not only a threat to educational dogmas. Competition from charter schools is an existential threat to traditional public schools in low-income minority communities, which tend to have even lower educational outcomes than traditional public schools as a whole.
The whole piece and his book are well worth reading. Some of these charter schools are held in the same building, drawing students from the same student pool by lottery, and you have 10% proficiency rates in the public half and 80-100% rates in the charter half. That’s the kind of huge disparity in education we should strive to resolve, and if it means putting half the public school teachers unions out of the street, I’m for it - if they’re not teaching the kids, give their job to someone who will and won’t make excuses about it.
Of course the democrat approach in NYC has been not to try any of this, since it would upset their teachers union voting block. Instead, they put systemic racists in charge of the DOE and try to destroy the good schools by giving unqualified students lots of seats in “magnet” schools, attack the tests as racist so they can excuse their terrible performance as educators, and generally hide their incompetence behind racial distractions. They’re happy if everyone ends up equally uneducated at the end, and they’re doing their best despite getting sued for civil rights violations. The corruption and blatant racial favoritism in these schools should be exhibit one in not letting the government be in charge.
And from my own, albeit limited experience with charter schools – they used to have certain admission requirements (essay, interview, etc), and to maintain a certain GPA to keep your spot. This was made illegal in CA very recently – in 2018.
If I had dumb or lazy kids I’m not sure I’d encourage them to apply for a better school. But if they were doing well and could do better, I definitely would. The difference in the quoted proficiency rates probably could not be explained away by this. But I do wonder whether such a stark difference exists in other places that admit everyone by lottery.
Sadly, you would probably be in the minority. I’ve had friends who were teachers or tutors. From their comments, most parents don’t recognize or won’t admit laziness and other failings in their parenting or children. They either make up excuses, or outright blame the teachers, principal, school board, other kids, bus drivers, etc. Some of the more loony ones blame the President.
As a tutor while in college, this was the number one reason they hired me. Many would admit it readily though. I was told many times - although in more diplomatic ways usually -, ok I’m paying you to make sure my kid does their math/science homework otherwise they’re too lazy to do it and they may respect your authority more than mine (and very likely also your time is cheaper than my time).
Thanks for the insight into the NYC school system. I’m not sure it’s typical of how all public school systems are around the country though.
To be fair, I didn’t want to deal with this stuff so a year before our first child was to enter kindergarden, we just moved to the best school district in the county (3rd in the State) so I wouldn’t worry about it. Our taxes increased quite a bit compared to the previous crappy school district we were in before but it was still cheaper than sending the kids to private school and we got much better real estate appreciation as well.
Effectively buying in was not cheap though since property values are also some of the highest in the county. I just worry that this trend would only amplify if we’d go with vouchers for everyone. It’s already hard to consider the current system close to equal opportunity education.
Maybe this is a side question, but you said the taxes increased in the “good” district. Does this mean the tax rate was higher, or was it just a function of the higher property values?
I think vouchers would do the opposite to the trends you mention. With vouchers it wouldnt matter where you live. Which means the district with a lower tax rate and low property values would become more attractive, since you arent stuck with the crappy schools that come with it. Which will raise property values, and increase the tax base and tax revenue for those previously poorly funded districts.
Both. Obviously home price increased so at the fixed (through the county) real estate tax rate of 2.2% of home valuation, that increased real estate taxes. But additionally, the levies for local schools, library, infrastructure, etc… were higher in our current school district. And finally the local city income tax rate changed from 2% to 2.5% of income. The combination of all those meant much higher taxes both real estate and income taxes.
If where you lived no longer mattered for which public school your kids went to, how would you keep prices reasonable for the best schools? You’d have even higher competition for the best schools. Schools could then decide to hike tuition prices as high as the market could tolerate. Not much easier access for low income households.
In the end, I think it’d still do very little to promote equal opportunities. Higher income folks would simply outbid others into the best schools just like they currently do by living in the best school districts or sending them to private schools. You’d only change the definition of the area servicing some schools to not be tied to city limits. Real estate prices would re-equilibrate based on pure geographical proximity rather than city limit.
Speaking of real estate, you could no longer pass a levy for infrastructure basically. If residents were not guaranteed to benefit from them in the long run, they’d all get voted down. Especially with potential higher mobility in housing because I think it would also affect home ownership. If you wanted to keep getting the best deal (good schools + low taxes + cheap property prices), your best bet would be renting until you’re done with schooling your kids so you could move more easily each year if need be.
And that’s without going into issues of transportation, stability in school environment for kids, or even how to decide on the amount of the voucher in areas of the country with different costs of living. Ultimately, I don’t think it’d change things for the better and could be a nightmare to implement fairly without serious unintended consequences.
Looking at the best education systems across the world, in terms of literacy, are the best countries for education utilizing a system that’s mostly public schools or totally private schools like such a voucher system would introduce?
I think it’s important to try to get the average or somewhat below average case right, rather than worry about inequality on the high end. Not everyone will be able to go to an Ivy League school no matter how hard you try, since that’s limited to the top few percent. On that note, I once saw a pathetic attempts by education bureaucrats to cram 60-70% of the student class into the “top 50%” to hide their schools results via creative GPA schemes (clearly not any stats majors working in school admin).
Right now many poor students get very poor educational opportunities. I’m not saying they’re going to get a top notch one under a charter system, but if a new (charter or otherwise) school that was just average showed up in their area, the parents could send their kids there, thereby depleting the existing ineffective public school of resources and encouraging this new school to expand and do more of what made them good - better management, better teacher selection, more efficient resource allocation, etc. This freedom of choice, even if a parent can only pick among the handful of schools near them as a person of limited means, gives their kids better outcomes, rewards better schools and better teachers, and sets up incentives that will further that positive process.
You could do that with a top down model if you had leaders with a spine maybe, ie if your school performs below 20% average proficiency for a year or two, we burn it all down - fire every last person and start over. But the teacher unions, the tenure and pensions, the votes, the campaign contributions…
Selection bias in picking your students is worth a huge amount in terms of being able to deliver good outcomes, although it was not a large effect in the study cited due to the lottery structure.
I read an interview with a principal of a good low income charter school describing the rigorous selection process they used - on the parents, not the kids. the parents had to show up at the school to sign up very early to put their kid on the list. Then they had to go to an in-person meeting to hear about the school for an evening (and sign in). A few weeks later there was something else, reconfirm your slot, etc. months later you only had parents who cared enough about education to jump through many easy but mildly inconvenient hoops to keep their kid on the list, since if you failed any one time, well, I guess education wasn’t a priority for you. And the school produced great results, but they freely admitted it wouldn’t work without that screening. Parents matter a lot too.
While there is some disingenuous complaining by the bad public schools that charter schools are cherry-picking their better students, I think that’s still an improvement. Segregating the students who care more from those that don’t is a big win in terms of allowing the former to get a good education without the disruptions of the latter, especially in a time when discipline has fallen out of fashion. I saw a older study on busing for example, which was largely a huge debacle, but basically it only worked well in cases where you had to opt into the busing since if you sent lots of poor kids elsewhere, the bad ones just screwed up the new place for everyone while if you only sent the few ones trying to learn (ie who’s parents chose a more inconvenient, non-default option), it worked ok.
this was made illegal in CA very recently – in 2018.
I’m sorry although not entirely surprised to hear CA had made having standards illegal. As a teacher in the past, it’s obvious that separating students by general ability level in a subject is much preferable both for being able to teach them and for them to learn than having a group with widely varying abilities. You teach to the middle, and both the high and low ends are worse off, and moreso the wider the spreads is. The old school model might have had average classes, a gifted class version of the same subject, and maybe a lower/slower level one as well for those who had the most trouble. This worked pretty well, not that the slowest students learned as much as the others, but when they later experimented with dumping everyone in the same class, everyone learned a whole lot less, there were more discipline issues from those who were bored or lost, etc.
That’s totally our experience too. Our son is basically 2 years ahead in math, foreign language and accelerated in language arts and that did him a lot of good for discipline. Picks honor classes when available to keep him out of trouble. He was just bored understanding the material in 5 minutes and then spending the next half hour messing around because it was just boring. This was a big part of why we went with online learning this year which is self-paced and when he’s done with a topic, aces the test, then moves on without waiting for the slower students in the class.
I imagine the flip side for kids that get intervention specialists to work with them. In a regular class, they’d either get lost quickly or slow every one down, feel discouraged because everyone seems to be getting it much faster and just giving up in the end. Much better to work at their own pace with more tailored learning. No they won’t end up taking IB/AP classes but they may just get enough of an education to be just fine in life rather than drop out and dragging everyone down with them in the process.
I’m glad our district has more ways to adjust to student needs than a one-size fits all model.
Watch out for the silencing duct tape. The silver lining is that you can at least pretend to be a kidnap victim, and thus gain insight for acting.
Congrats on your family’s efforts with your son and your / his accomplishments. Out of curiosity, are there are any practical applications / exercises or is it all “read the book, take the test” stuff? And, would your answer be different if he was in the classroom? Sorry, no implications or criticisms meant - just curious.
It depends on the subject a lot. The art class is basically all project-based with materials you can easily procure at home. They’ll have to simply display it remotely. Some of the art projects also seem to include more digital media composition as an option instead.
PE is basically a series of online workouts. But if you’re engaged in other sports either within the school system or outside of it, you can use those as your PE class. Basically it’s really hard to do PE online so they just want evidence that the kids are active.
For other subjects, there’s also virtually no “read the book, take the test”. It’s all videos based. A teacher explains a topic in a video, goes over all the details, adds links to extra info, goes through examples of problems and how to solve them, etc. A few of the examples are actually explained in separate videos by kids of the same age. Then they give them exercises that are randomized (same exercise type but numbers are random or from a pool of exercises). It works best IMO for STEM subjects. But even social studies work pretty well since you can make it pretty interactive.
Foreign language is basically Rosetta Stone for kids. Series of videos on various topics mixing cultural aspects and grammar/vocabulary in practical applications (say unit on food will have scenes in kitchens, at meals, or in restaurants and people describing the main vocabulary words in sample dialogs.
Language arts seems the most boring to me. Not super interactive units so far. Read this book, questions on the book that illustrate a point of grammar/English and get the kids thinking about ways of writing. (maybe I’m biased since I never enjoyed much LA classes myself lol).
One thing that is very different is the lack of cooperation between kids. In classes conducted via zoom by regular teachers instead of totally online content, they can break out into small groups to work out problems in a collaborative fashion. I generally like this better but since the totally online classes are self-paced, there’s no way to make that work. That said, our son hates group projects saying he always ends up doing more of the work because he does not want his grade to suffer because others are slacking. So for a year of middle school, it’ll work out.