Monday, January 31

Kids Today

Kevin "America's One-Time Next Great Pundit and One-Time Mr. Michelle Rhee" Huffman, "A Rosa Parks moment for education". January 31

I WAS having such a good weekend I figured I'd better check out the Spontaneous Student Uprising to Draft Mitch Daniels I'd heard so much about. One embarrassing (and, really, is there any other kind?) and embarrassingly white YouTube video later I ran into this:
Who is Mitch Daniels?

Daniels is arguably the best Governor in America. In his first year leading Indiana, he transformed a $600 million deficit into a $370 million surplus. Daniels signed the Healthy Indiana Plan that expanded medical coverage to 132,000 uninsured people, passed an $870 million property tax cut, and directed Indiana — a state with 2 percent of the nation’s population — to account for 10 percent of America’s private sector job growth in 2009.

When you add his experience working in the White House, the U.S. Senate, as an executive of a respected policy think tank, and a major corporation, you can see why one pundit said that Daniels would make the best President of any Republican hopeful.

I am not even gonna say it (again). I just want to ask one thing: How did this budget miracle take place? Why, if Mitch has The Answer, aren't we doing that everywhere? Why isn't he explaining how? He doesn't even explain how he did it in Indiana. [Here's the short version, for the study-adverse: 1) Find a state where the legislature traditionally does little or no budget work in even-numbered (read: election) years. 2) Get elected. 3) Announce, loudly, that the difference between the projected budgetary requirements of two years previous and the real-world requirements of the present--which just happened to reflect the two years of the Bush II Jobless Recovery Part I, Mitch Daniels, Director--constitutes Deficit Spending! since "Standard Accounting Procedure in Republican and Democratic administrations" doesn't really have that Zing to it. 4) Find a Toll Road in your state. 5) Sell it to the same schnooks and crooks who bought the Chicago Skyway and now have no way of getting people on their private drive from the East except through you. 6) Announce, loudly, that the difference between the sale price of public property in your trust and the "deficit" "you" "inherited" represents your Big Brain at work. 7) Run for President.]

I mean 7) Be coy about running for President so a wholly spontaneous, grassroots initiative of college students concerned, above any and all other concerns, about The Deficit can form a fucking PAC to urge you to run. Th' hell happened to people over the last twenty-five years? You can't just open a free Facebook page without begging for tax-exempt contributions first?

I may be somewhat inured to these sorts of shenanigans, but I'm not going to get over the underlying willful stupidity in this lifetime:
Last week, 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was released after serving nine days in jail on a felony conviction for tampering with records. Williams-Bolar's offense? Lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to the lousy Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district.

Williams-Bolar has become a cause célèbre in a case that crosses traditional ideological bounds. African American activists are outraged, asking: Would a white mother face the same punishment for trying to get her kids a better education? (Answer: No.)

Meanwhile, conservatives view the case as evidence of the need for broader school choice. What does it say when parents' options are so limited that they commit felonies to avoid terrible schools? Commentator Kyle Olson and others across the political spectrum have called this "a Rosa Parks moment for education."

Yes, the entire span of the political spectrum: from a Townhall contributor with a right-wing educational "reform" foundation to a news reader on NPR, all the way to a couple of black people. All agree that the only way to improve public education is to throw in with the "conservative" forces which have been trying to destroy public education since 1956.
if you are poor, you're out of luck, subject to the generally anti-choice bureaucracy. Hoping to win the lottery into an open enrollment "choice" school in your district? Good luck. How about a high-performing charter school? Sure - if your state doesn't limit their numbers and funding like most states do. And vouchers? Hiss! You just touched a political third rail.

Williams-Bolar lived in subsidized housing and was trapped in a failed system. In a Kafkaesque twist, she was taking college-level courses to become a teacher herself - a dream she now will never realize as a convicted felon. It's America's version of the hungry man stealing bread to feed his family, only to have his hand cut off as punishment.

Y'know, here's the interesting thing, to me: We've been listening--and implementing--these solutions since before Mr. Huffman entered Swarthmore. As the "solution" to our "lousy schools" they're the Cup that never runs dry. But no one seems to mention that you can drink for thirty years and you're still thirsty.

There is no fucking set of circumstances under which Charter schools cease to be a Lucky Lotto deal. Indianapolis is creating Charters as fast as our Republican, or Republican-Democrat mayors can sign the papers; this hasn't changed the refrain about "failing schools" one bit. We've passed out vouchers in this country for a quarter century; if there was a single example of this making any difference it would've been repeated so often that by now we all knew it by heart. If the incontinently-deposited Charters in Indianapolis were performing any better than their public school counterparts there wouldn't be any discussion any more.

I don't know the particulars of Ohio's educational system. I don't know what made the actual "lousy school" Ms Williams-Bolar was supposed to send her children to so lousy, and I'm guessing nobody's eager to tell me. I won't condone nor condemn what she did, nor the way the Not Lousy suburban school district played hardball with her, from hiring a PI to demanding full tuition once she was caught.

Here's what I do know, and here's the one thing that's inescapable in this little morality play: Ms Williams-Bolar was trying to send her children to a fucking public school. Because the funding equation we enshrine, and the district lines we draw, are what make our poorest families send their children to our poorest schools. And the next time I hear someone from Teach for America offer a solution for that which doesn't sound like Mitch Daniels' Unexplained Miracle Touch will be the first time.


Anonymous said...

"Daniels would make the best President of any Republican hopeful."
Not a very high bar.

ckc (not kc) said...

What does it say when parents' options are so limited that they commit felonies to avoid terrible schools?

Well, it says to me that an investment should be made in the terrible schools to improve them, but I know that can't be the right answer.

TM said...

Those lovely vouchers... "Let's give everyone $1500 vouchers and then let them pick which $20k per year private school to send their kids."

Totally great solution, if you happen to be upper middle class and desirous of a subsidy you don't need.

loretta said...

This is a local story to me, and there's more to it than that. The school gave the mom the choice of paying tuition after she got caught, and she refused. Meanwhile, she continued to claim her kids were living with her father and she stayed where she lived, continued to pick the kids up and bring them home.

She had choices - she could have moved in with her father and had the kids actually live in the district; or she could have moved herself. The mother refused to obey something she had complete control over, that's not the same thing as being Rosa Parks.

DW said...

Throughout the history of school desegregation, it was common practice for white parents to falsify address records to avoid schools that were seen as too dark and to get their kids into "better" schools.