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Gawker’s John Cook proposes a solution to the structural issues facing Chicago public schools:
There is one simple step that would go a long way toward resolving many of those issues: Make all schools public schools.
Yes, this is what it seems. It’s also a proposal supported by Warren Buffett and others including L.A.’s charter school czar and Obama succubite, Steve Barr.
For what it’s worth, the economists who blog at Forbes’ Modeled Behavior ridiculed the post on Twitter. Cook merely retweeted the criticism (the Twitter version of agree and amplify). Which brings to mind what is so obnoxious about the Gawker empire. The confidence with which they write (see: Hamilton Nolan’s argument for a maximum income) far outpaces their knowledge on the issues they typically write about. And they don’t seem to know that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Cook lays it out:
This would of course be a radical and highly disruptive step. It would involve forcibly transferring ownership of all existing private schools to the school district in which they reside, and readjusting local tax schemes to capture the tuition parents currently pay (the nationwide average is $8,549 per year, which means a total of $47 billion is spent each year on opting out of the public education system). Then access to the newly “nationalized” schools would have to be distributed on some fair basis to local students, with the wealthy kids who don’t make the cut into their old schools being sent to the regular ones, without air conditioning or libraries. And resources would have to be redistributed within the school districts so that the resources formerly lavished on private schools could be spent shoring up the failing public ones.
…there’s also a moral argument for banning private education. Put simply: Equality of opportunity demands that children should not be penalized—or advantaged—by the accident of their birth. Educational benefits, which are the most crucial resource when it comes to determining the life-outcomes for children of all backgrounds, shouldn’t be distributed based on how rich your parents are. They should be distributed equally.
Perhaps there is something important in the phrase “accident of their birth”. Some parents plan the birth of their children. Many children are merely accidents. There’s likely a correlation between the academic success and wealth of the parents and whether or not the kid was an accident. Because if you plan to have kids then you’re probably more likely to plan out their educational paths. You probably also care more about their education. You invest in that child in many, many ways. But if the kid is an accident or if there was no good plan put in place – well now someone has to do the planning for you for life to be fair.
The reason for the obstruction of conservatives against most of Obama’s policy proposals stems from the belief that, left unfettered, many more liberal politicians would try to enforce policies based upon these arguments. Cook goes on:
And that’s what private education does: It allows parents to purchase better life-prospects for their kids simply because they can afford it…Of course, the act of simply raising children in a wealthy home is a form of purchasing them better life-prospects than poorer children. And attempting to equalize that dynamic would be impossible without unacceptable governmental intrusions into the child-parent relationship.
Cook never says why it is so imperative to have equal educational outcomes. We have to assume that one person’s success is somehow offensive. Again, two very different concepts of equal opportunity. Does Cook see how this would play out? If private schools are banned, the wealthy will move to school districts which are better than the ones in areas where parents don’t care as much about their children’s educational outcomes. Or, if they’re forced to send their kids to bad schools full of inferior, violent students, the schools themselves will become segregated in different ways. The smarter kids will take more honors classes, for one. According to Cook, that wouldn’t be fair. Or perhaps wealthier parents (or parents who just happen to care more about their kids’ success) will enroll their kids in extracurricular activities. Force them to learn another language or an instrument. Or they’d bring in a private tutor in order to help them get into good colleges. That will give them a leg up over their less wealthy peers and that’s not fair.
These people are insane. But it is refreshing that almost everyone who commented at the site also thinks that Cook is insane.