New Year's BreakPosted by Craig Westover | 11:52 PM |
I will be spending New Year's weekend at a secure undisclosed location. Blogging will resume on Monday.
Have a great new year, all.
I will be spending New Year's weekend at a secure undisclosed location. Blogging will resume on Monday.
No, not George W. Bush, but President Jed Bartlet of the NBC series The West Wing. Reader Dave Vogel provides a summary followed by some good insight.
While watching the West Wing last night, I could hardly believe that they actually took up the issue of vouchers in schools. The Mayor of D.C. comes in to talk to the President on getting his support for vouchers in schools. The usual objections are made (political support from traditional Democratic sources like teachers' unions and how it is unfair for children). The Mayor relates his personal experiences with what he has seen firsthand, and how there is lots of support for it not from the rich and powerful but the poor kids who want a chance at a decent education.And sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction --
The President calls in one of staff members who is a young black man. He asks him where he went to school, and he replies one of the public schools. Thinking he proved a point that you can succeed at a public school, he then asks him where he would have preferred to go. The response is a private school he names, and that the education was much better, hardly any violence and the kids that went there all were focusing on getting into college. When he asks why he wasn't able to go, he said he couldn't afford it. The President weighs the testimony, and actually goes ahead for financing a pilot program.
It was pretty impressive, and hopefully something like that will help those who automatically oppose an idea simply because it comes from a Republican look at the issue in a different light. I imagine a large chunk of the audience is center to center/left in nature, so the people exposed to this idea might not have ever heard the debate framed in these terms. The case is argued from a Democratic black Mayor, supported by a Democratic black staffer, and is given a thoughtful response from a Democratic President. I can only hope that stuff like this can move the debate forward.
Overshadowed in yesterday's Star Tribune by the clamour over Nick Coleman's latest use of newspaper pages for personal vendetta was the lead Letter to the Editor from a frequent commentator on this site, Jerry Ewing.
Not quite, Virginia
I'm sorry, Virginia, but your little friends are wrong ("State budget is a moral document," Dec. 27). There is a Santa Claus, but state government is not he.
Where is the separation of church and state when liberals want government charity? It is not a moral act to steal from one to give to another, nor is it charity -- no matter how much you care.
The authors give to faith and charity, but then want the state to use its power of taxation to force the rest of us to give even more. Do you ever wonder why these "charitable" people do not voluntarily pay more taxes than they owe? Nothing prevents that, except perhaps the certain knowledge that government "charity" is the moral equivalent of extortion on the one end and prostitution on the other. Perhaps if taxes were lower, we could all be more charitable.
Jerry Ewing, Apple Valley.
Stress is scientifically proven to contribute to a number of health problems for ordinary Americans. The danger is that stress is becoming so common that we have just assumed that the perpetual state of stress we live in is "normal." That does not mitigate the health hazards.
Posted on Sun, Jan. 05, 2003
What can I say? Nick certainly has that argumentum ad hominem down.
My ancestors came here as Irish sod busters in the 1850s, and they would be spinning beneath that sod if they saw powerful people trying to tear down what they built. But they'd enjoy how the Extreme works now: How it hammers all its opponents in the Mainstream as limousine liberals.So would Nick’s ancestor’s approve or disapprove of Powerline? What does that paragraph mean? Okay, so he’s a bad writer. But what really irks me is that despite an exchange of emails, and dueling columns and multiple blog posts on the Maxfield issue, Nick can still write this --
But Extreme bloggers don't tell truths. They tell talking points. Powerline is the biggest link in a daisy chain of right-wing blogs that is assaulting the Mainstream Media while they toot their horns in the service of ... what? The downtrodden? No, that was yesterday's idea of the purpose of journalism.
First, he tars all bloggers with a single brush. For students of logic, it’s the fallacy of “converse accident” or for Nick, “hasty generalization.” However you define it, it’s a hack technique. Then, for over a month, Nick has been the one refusing to acknowledge that when it comes to educating the “downtrodden,” he’d rather see a kid stagnate in a government school that have the opportunity provided by a public education system based on choice -- that includes the choice to stay in the government school.
Who's sticking up for the downtrodden?
To be precise, I should say that’s what I believe he thinks because he has never addressed that question directly. Instead, he felt that like “Big Trunk” and "Hind Rocket” I should have a “fantasy name” and so he dubbed me “Captain Fishsticks.” I believe, as one reader noted to me, he purposely excluded me from his Christmas card list.
Second, he calls himself a journalist, but to carry out yet another personal vendetta, he misses the story -- the interrelationship between blogs and the mainstream media. That’s a discussion that takes a little more intellectual firepower than attempting refutation of a logical argument by reference to the illustration on a box of fishsticks, which why perhaps it’s a topic at journalism schools where people are more interested in learning stuff than flaunting stuff they think they know.
Enough about Nick. I agree with Peg at What If? "Never wrestle with a pig; you'll both get dirty and only the pig will enjoy it." The thrill is gone.
Among the many differences between Nick Coleman and the blogging community is that bloggers link to Nick's work so that readers can judge for themselves whether bloggers are accurately reflecting his views -- decide for themselves the knotty issues like whether or not "books in the classroom" can be inferred to mean "textbooks." Nick merely misrepresents.
Over 1,100 Christmas Day flights were cancelled by Delta Air Lines feeder carrier Comair because of computer problems. In search of answers, AP reporter Harry Weber, turned to Terry Trippler, “an airline industry expert in Minneapolis.”
Indeed, I must humbly tip my funny hat to “the Elder” and the Fraters Libertas crew for a solid trouncing of my one-night Keegan’s coalition of wife, daughter and her beau. Their trivia strategy prevailed. While I drilled my team on the more obscure Irish myths, the fundamentals of the Federalist papers and the details of proposed military weapons systems, the Fraters obviously sat entranced by the classic animated “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and pondered the secret desires of Lucy.
Check out the comments section of the post "Tell me again, who is part of the problem?" There's a great debate going there that illustrates the role reversal between the liberal and conservative perspectives when it comes to education.
I sent the following e-mail to this morning to Art Coulson, Opinion Page Editor of the Pioneer Press. Any so inclined, express your opinion as well.
I can't express how proud I am of the Pioneer Press for running my column today including the oblique references to Nick Coleman and the Star Tribune. I do not intend to make such references a practice, but this was a case where he was abusing his position to turn public discourse away from debate and reason into a mud-slinging contest -- something the Pioneer Press would call a politician or other public figure to account for.
Read the blogs -- some of the media’s harshest critics -- and you’ll find a definite change in attitude toward the Pioneer Press. That change is not based entirely on point-of-view, but also a recognition that the Opinion Page of the Pioneer Press puts an emphasis on logical, factual argument, not blatant partisan rhetoric.
As I’ve passed along, I get many comments from people in Minneapolis who would like to subscribe to the daily paper. I understand the economics of why that doesn’t work, but you may want to consider a higher-priced weekly “best of” edition that compiles non-time sensitive features and opinion pieces for distribution in Minneapolis and contains Minneapolis advertising. Just a thought.
Again, my compliments for your integrity and courage to present different points of view. My thanks for including me among that group.
Have a great holiday --
Yes, Virgina, it is possible to write about the homeless with dignity and compassion.
Flash, Centrisity, offers this take on the Maxfield controversy by asking the “right Wing Axis” to step up and be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
When a local columnist writes an article on literacy, and the local Right Wing Media machine chews it up, spits it out, and changes the whole intent into their own little focused message, it is nothing more the a perfect example of being part of the problem, not part of the solution.The focused message, according to Flash. “is nothing more then the systemic disassembling of the public school system,” although to his credit he does pay a back-handed complement to “Captain Fishsticks” with a link --
There are no fewer then a half dozen members of the Right Wing Axis and their surrogates bashing away at this issue, and only one who is making any reasonable attempt to focus on the kids, albeit his goal is still the same as the rest.If I were the local columnist in question, I might at this point impugn Flash’s reading comprehension, but that would be unfair. The distinction between “public education” as a concept and the delivery system for public education has been so confused -- benignly and maliciously -- that it is not as self-evident to grasp as it should be.
They talk about 'accountability' of the district and school staffs, but place no accountability on the parents. . . . I don't think we should give the districts and their employees a free pass, but I don't think we should give the parents one either.Indeed, lack of parental involvement is part of the problem. So are poverty, racism, and physical and mental disabilities. But being part of the problem, such factors must be addressed, not used as excuses. If parental involvement is an insurmountable problem, then let’s stop throwing money at education. I'm a hard-hearted conservative; seems to me it makes more sense to fail cheaply than to spend a great deal of money to fail.
“"My question, which continues to go unanswered, is how is it ethical for the educational establishment to prevent low-income kids from moving out of a failing school and into a school that would provide them a better opportunity for a first-rate education?""Reasonable questions. First open enrollment allows me to move my child from one government school to another. If I am well-to-do, I can, of course, also move my child to a private or religious school. However, if I am a low-income parent, I am effectively denied the opportunity to remove my child from the government school system. In a true “public” education system, state money follows the child and a low-income family can use state funds to educate their child at any school.
First, the system allows for that. My understanding is that, through open enrollment, you can move your child.
I am waiting for someone to tell me why they believe it is best to destroy the current system, instead of effecting change from within. My kids are doing well in the SPPS environment. Don't I have as much right to see that environment remain.
MAKERS OF CRACK ISSUE SAFETY WARNING
Over at SCSU Scholars, King Banian has an excellent post on the Maxfield controversy that reminds us why we sailed on this voyage in the first place -- accountability.
The accountability problem that Westover describes is what I would call an allocation problem. In what do you invest these funds? The debate over textbooks or reading materials misses a key point -- books themselves do not produce education. They must be complemented with other inputs. Textbooks must be complemented with teachers . . . . Reading materials for students to take home require a parent to be sure the material is read. . . . . Here's the question then --The excellent point King makes is my departure point for advocating school choice. It’s not just the money that goes into a school, the variety of classes and extra-curricular activities or the “diversity” that is important. If parents see that a school is simply not working -- that is not providing the kind of support for materials that King describes -- those parents should have the real option of choosing another school, regardless of family income.
What is Coleman assuming in thinking a book drive for extra books for kids to take home will accomplish? If the parents do not supervise, if the child's social pressures are such that academics is denigrated (Bill Cosby, call your office!), and if teachers cannot find creative ways to use those books, they may simply collect dust. Again: Just handing a child a book to take home and read does not guarantee better reading scores. A book requires a structure within which it is read, understood and discussed to help with comprehension, and along with it the development of a culture of learning. Otherwise it's no more effective than free condoms.
I come down squarely with Westover then that the question is one of accountability. Asking for it is why Maxfield Principal Zelda Wiley screamed bloody murder to the PioneerPress and gave the StarTribune a free pass . . . And Coleman has swung and missed three times now on the question. If Maxfield is burning, money isn't the answer. Indeed, it might be the fuel.
But, there is another outlet for Nick Coleman criticism that may not have such a positive consequence for his career. Because that outlet has the potential to threaten the monopolistic news cycle of abuse that sustains him. I speak of the Pioneer Press. . . . A Westover editorial in today's Pioneer Press provides a great example of this. Better yet, it directly refutes a Nick Coleman column. Apparently, newspaper professional courtesy prevents him from naming names, but the references are undeniable. . . .The ability of this column to expose Nick Coleman, not for being a blithering leftist apologist, but for being a lazy researcher and lousy writer, well, it's like a miracle. Bravo Westover and Pioneer Press management for publishing it.I admit, I enjoyed reading that, but deep down I feared it false flattery. The idea that a journalist of Nick Coleman’s “stature” (not to be confused with gravitas) would bother to flick this little once-a-week gnat at his spurned former-employer seemed more than a little unlikely to me. But I think LearnedFoot might be on to something. He posted today --
He [Coleman] doesn't seem to recognize that by acknowledging our [bloggers] arguments, he validates them. Do you ever feel threatened by those whose arguments are completely meritless?That I do take as a compliment and return in kind to everyone who has checked in on the Maxfield controversy. We are making a difference, and I ask now for your continued support.
I should thank him for helping me understand the extent of the campaign against public school funding, as well as the strategy of the pirates who want to plunder education funds and use the money for schools that will teach young men how to tie a proper bow tie.Here’s what I wrote that I can only assume prompted that comment --
What you should immediately pick up on is that the well-to-do people who send their children to private and religious schools and those who select schools by choosing to live in districts with the better programs have such [school] choice already. Who doesn’t have a choice in education? Low-income kids in inner city schools -- the very kids that for some unfathomable reason the education establishment insists must stay in schools that are fighting for “survival.”Seems to me that it’s a much larger jump from what I wrote to what Nick inferred than it is from “books in the classroom” to “textbooks.” But, hey, I’m only a "semi-pro newspaper columnist."
Captain Fishsticks was reproved in print by Maxfield Principal Zelma Wiley. Since then, Fishsticks has gone back to his boat and confined his tirades to the first refuge of scoundrels, his personal Internet blog, where he is toasted by other rum-swigging hearties daily.Nary a mention of this from my e-mail to him --
As Art [Coulson, opinion page editor] is painfully aware, I am dying to carry on this dialogue in the newspaper. Art is a more judicious man than I and more journalistically cognizant. Therefore, rightly the call is his.As for Maxfield Principal Zelma Wiley, in my letter to her, I offered to visit Maxfield after the holidays when I’ll be visiting other schools with demographics similar to Maxfield to see how they manage to keep their kids in books. I have yet to hear from her. My invitation to “family night” must have been lost in the mail.
A personal note to Jim Styczinski: I have an alibi.
Fishing Hat Bandit strikes 23rd bank
The Fishing Hat Bandit struck his 23rd bank Friday, this time in Northfield.
The man demanded money at the U.S. Federal Credit Union on Jefferson Road at 9:25 a.m. and left in a maroon, four-door 1990s Chevrolet Lumina.
He is considered the most prolific serial bank robber in Minnesota. The string of robberies dates to June 2003 and has involved banks mostly in the Twin Cities area.
The robber is a white man, about 50 years old, 6 feet tall, with a thin build. He was wearing a dark hooded sweat shirt on Friday, but his moniker is a reference to the fishing hat he often wore during his earlier bank robberies.
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 612-276-3200. A reward is being offered.
There’s so much inherently wrong with MPR’s purchase of WCAL from St. Olaf College that it’s too much for a Saturday morning post, but if one wants to get quickly to the core of the issue, it lies in this quote from the AM’s Pioneer Press --
"When MPR or most nonprofit institutions take on some sector of community service, they get in it for the long term," said Sarah Lutman, MPR's senior vice president for cultural programming.So, let me understand -- we’re using tax dollars to enable a handful of people at MPR to inflict on the rest of us their “value about the kind of community we want to live in and how we want to treat each other . . . . [about] how we want our community to be”?
"MPR has a value about the kind of community we want to live in and how we want to treat each other," Lutman said.
"In that way, we're like the BBC. Our motives are very different from commercial radio. It's about the content itself, about reflecting where we live and how we want our community to be."
Ernie Melby is a faithful reader of (and commenter on) my columns. He has a letter in today’s Pioneer Press that captures the feelings of many. As you’re so inclined, keep those letter flowing to the Pioneer Press -- they do make a difference!
The article regarding lawn signs still being displayed was quite interesting. Most indicated that they were making a statement, but what is that statement? To me, put in Bible language, it is:
Thou shalt not have any other God than the DFL.
Thou shalt not be tolerant of any opposing views.
Thou shalt not allow fundamentalist Christians to vote.
Thou shalt not love thy neighbor if he/she is not DFL.
Thou shalt not accept the will of the people.
We are supposed to be a democratic republic, not a Democratic republic. There is a major difference. It seems strange that the political party I remember as most open to divergent ideas has become hateful and opposed to anything not on their agenda.
ERNEST R. MELBY
Just a quick note to say "thanks" to the many people who have commented on posts and linked to posts on this site over the last week or so. The kind words and support are much appreciated.
Mark Wernimont, a sales representative for Global Air Filtration Systems Inc. sends along this link for those interested in the impact that a smoking ban can have on small bars and restuarants. If an arbitrary law damages businesses to this extent, doesn't it make sense that the "community" that benefits ought to compensate the business owners for damages?
I will be attending my wife's office "Hanaramakwanzmas" party this evening. I will be "homeless" from approximately 6:30 to midnight. Contributions to the Bandwidth Fund gratefully accepted during those hours.
My grandniece as pictured on the the San Francisco Bay Area PBS Web Site.
From today’s e-mail:
At the risk of having it become a full-time occupation, I assume you will have something to say about Nick Coleman's latest column, blasting back at those offended by his "homeless" tirade. What a pompous bloviator! He has ascended to his own unique class of self-righteousness! Until last week, I made it a point never to read his column. Now I am sorry that, against my better judgment, I tried it just to see what you were talking about. I guess you were right; it really IS tripe, and not even good tripe.This reader sums up things up pretty well, and despite the fact that a mention of Nick does for my visitor count what a naked butt shot of Dennis Franz on “NYPD Blue” does for ABC’s ratings, I don’t intend to make him even a part-time concern. I can be bought, but not THAT cheaply.
You're doing great. Keep it up.
I’m only a little over a week late, but Mark Yost’s December 7 Pioneer Press column “A Republic, if you can keep it” surfaced to the top of the “to blog” pile this morning -- cream always rises to the top.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that some people think we need a federal law to teach the Constitution. Academic intellectuals have made it their mission to take the remarkable achievements of a small band of 18th-century Enlightenment men and denigrate them with what passes for 20th-century mores.The effort began in earnest, Yost states, with the 1913 publication of Charles Beard’s “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States,” and subsequently has evolved into the academic premise that the Founders drafted the Constitution to secure their own personal wealth. He writes --
Primed with Beard's treatise, history students have been encouraged by an increasingly radicalized academy to pursue doctoral dissertations that not only delegitimize the Founders, but also question the very foundation of our noble experiment in self-government. The net result is a history faculty that firmly believes that the life accomplishments of Jefferson and Washington can be summed up in one word: "slaveholder."I find the notion of writing the Founders off, especially Jefferson, for being slaveholders as intellectually limiting. So to is the notion that Jefferson’s owning slaves is justified by the rationale “that it was okay in the context of the times.” That is also an intellectually limiting notion. Both the accusation and the response stem from asking the wrong question.
Wednesday is my Pioneer Press column day, and I usually rise early to make sure my new column is posted on my site. Wednesday is also the day I try to update my site -- file articles on specific topics for easy reference. (I am kind of proud that a large percentage of visitors to this site view multiple pages, some spending 15 minutes to half an hour or more.) I highlight a new post and pick a “Golden Oldie” -- another concession to vanity, a favorite post I pull out like a picture of the kids from the wallet. I also update the “Thought for the Week.”
“When government takes away a core function [of communities], it depletes not only the source of vitality pertaining to that particular function, but also the vitality of a much larger family of responses” . . . . David Boaz adds, “The attitude of ‘let government take care of it’ becomes a habit.”What Murray and Boaz are driving at, and what Nick’s column describes, is the result of and illustrative of the danger of emphasis on the “public morality” that I described in my December 1 column --
In a local newspaper article lavishly praising the documentary film "WELLSTONE!" there appeared this remarkable statement: "Like Illinois' Democratic Senate shoo-in Barack Obama, he [Wellstone] cared more about public morality (the policies that define a culture's decency) than private morality (the actions that determine an individual's character)."As I noted in that column, collective morality is insidious. It robs individuals of the necessity of making individual moral decisions that build individual character. When government uses force to impose pseudo "public morality," it destroys authentic morality that otherwise naturally governs the voluntary interactions of individuals one with another. It robs recipients of government largess of their self-esteem. It robs coerced benefactors of their natural ability to be truly benevolent. It robs society of its moral vigor.
Almost an hour after I read this post, I have finally stopped laughing enough to coherently write about it.
There was once a time when Republican Governors supported public education. When I interviewed former Governor Elmer Andersen moments before his death last month, he expressed his disgust with the extremists who have taken over his once tolerant party.It's school choice that is the main course of the delicious controversy Nick has stirred up, but sometimes giving Nick his just "desserts" is impossible to resist. Sweet writing, Jim.
My controversy with Nick Coleman certainly has upped the interest in the site. And I have no doubt that many of the those new visitors smell blood in the water and simply want to be part of frenzy feeding on the carcass of Mr. Coleman’s exhausted excuses for progressive programs. I would hope that there are many more who realize that the issue of school choice is more important that Mr. Coleman’s ranting.
It is clear that followers of Milton Friedman, such as Checker Finn, Bill Bennett and George W. Bush have an agenda to destroy our public schools. Friedman writes, "I believe that the only way to make a major improvement in our educational system is through privatization."Not only is it not “clear” that mainstream school choice advocates have “an agenda to destroy public schools,” it is clearly their intention NOT to do so. At his recent presentation in St. Paul, former Milwaukee School Superintendent Howard Fuller uttered remarks that basically agree with Solomon -- “School Choice will not transform public education. No one thing will. But public education will never be transformed without school choice. Parental choice must be in a parent’s arsenal to secure for children the opportunity to succeed.”
Unfortunately, privatization zealots substitute agenda for facts and emotion for analysis. And it is difficult to understand how, in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, they still promote privatization as THE answer.
First, there is not any ONE answer. Even if privatization were beneficial, it could not be THE answer.
People like Friedman have likely not stepped a foot into a public school within the past 40 years. If they have, they must have gone there blindfolded. If they had taken off the blindfold they would have seen many kids from dirt-poor families who come to school hungry, have hearing, speech, visual and dental problems. Too many come from homes with a single, working parent and receive no nurturing, support or encouragement. No school system can attend to these kinds of difficulties.“No school system can attend to these kinds of difficulties.” How more discouraging can you get. If that’s the case, then for the love of Pete let’s stop dumping money into government schools. If there’s no hope, why bother? Fortunately, Dr. Solomon is wrong.
Privatization zealots point to several banner-ads for their agenda. First, they say that kids in private schools outperform their peers, but proponents do not understand demographics. On average, private school children do well for three major reasons. They are more often from better-educated, more-affluent families---almost perfect corollaries for academic success. The parents are generally proactive in the child’s education. And those who refuse to work hard or misbehave can be expelled. If public schools had those advantages, we would have no problems. But dozens of careful studies have shown miniscule differences between private and public school academics with the same demographics. If privatization were the answer---or even AN answer---we should see huge advantages, but we do not.I’ve addressed this issue in detail before, which you can read here. Let me just say that it never ceases to amaze me how public school apologists continually refer to problem kids as obstacles to doing the job of educating children. Problem kids need education too! It is not acceptable to treat them as speed bumps in the road to problem-free public education. Perhaps more than any other students, these are the ones crying out for help -- and best exemplify the need for school choice.
Zealots also claim that private schools cost less than government schools. But this is based on the misconception that tuitions are equivalent to costs. Most private schools in America are church-subsidized and we have no records of the costs. Thus, if a Catholic school charges parishioners $1,200 per year and the public schools receive $5,000 per year per pupil, an erroneous conclusion is drawn concerning costs.For my column, which ignited the flammable Mr. Coleman, every Catholic school I spoke with made it clear what their cost-per-pupil was and could tell me exactly where money came from to make up the difference between tuition cost and per-pupil-cost. When Sol Stern called St. Paul Superintendent Pat Harvey and asked what the per-pupil educational cost was in St. Paul, for whatever reason she didn’t have a ready answer. Mr. Stern obtained a figure from the State Department of Education. The point is, the cost to educate a student in all but the most elite private schools is far less than in a government school.
But forget about this and let’s look at actual evidence from the nation’s largest private school company, Edison Schools. Edison was formed in the image of the zealots, with the wholehearted belief that private schools could cut though the red tape and bureaucracy of government, hire competent teachers and create a true learning environment---and they could do it for less money. Edison started because the first Bush administration planned to push through a voucher plan where families would receive government money for private school tuition. And since there would be a serious shortage of private school seats, Edison would fill that bill. But the plan was interrupted when George H. W. Bush lost his re-election. Edison plowed ahead anyway but instead of building private schools, it switched gears and bid to operate “failing” public schools. This would be the test. Edison schools vis-a -vis government schools, within the same school district. The race was to begin. But Edison stumbled right out of the gate.Okay -- how many of you have a Xerox PC on your desk? An NCR PC? The point is that the fact that these two companies failed to sustain a presence in the PC market in no way slowed the computer revolution. Edison’s story is much the same. It was created in anticipation of a market that did not develop and now operates in a market, as do private and religious schools in general, dominated by a government monopoly. That’s not a very favorable business environment for any company.
In an effort to keep the costs in line with government appropriations, many, perhaps most schools---lost money. For over a dozen years, Edison gradually lost money and often failed to produce on its promises to either cut costs or to boost academic performance. After reaching a high of close to $40 per share in early 2001, Edison’s share value tumbled to a low of 14 cents. In November 2003, the company was taken private. Today, instead of the thousand schools it planned to open, Edison operates 157 district partnership and charter schools. The average student achievement is claimed to be above similar public schools, but only marginally. Worse, Edison has had contracts terminated in many school districts for lack of academic performance in some cases and for costs that exceed government appropriations in others.
Again, if privatization were an answer, Edison Schools would be the true world-wide success story---but it is not. Now that the No Child Left Behind has gotten a strangle hold on our schools with unreasonably high goals and expectations that have never been achieved by any school system in any country, the George W. Bush administration will surely take another run at the final destruction of public schools in his final presidential term with vouchers.Like most critics of school choice, Dr. Solomon misses the point. “Public education” is about a concept -- educating all children is in the public interest. “Public education” is not simply the delivery system. A true public education system -- one that educated all children -- would consist of government schools, private schools, public and private charter schools, religious schools, cyber schools and schools of kind not yet imagined. Government’s role would be to ensure that all children of all economic backgrounds had the ability to attend any school that parents felt best met the child’s needs.
But doesn't it seem reasonable to see some dramatic and notable results from privatization before we destroy the public school system that has clearly been a major factor in the tremendous success of the American dream?