Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dark passage into the liberal mind

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:26 AM |  

Like an overly ambitious pup taking a run at the alpha male, Spotty sends me an email whenever he mentions my name in a post, which does remind of his existence. Like this post on Education Week’s “Chance for Success Index” (which ranks Minnesota third in the nation), Spotty’s posts are more bash than bite and not worth more than quick skim. What inspires my post is not Spot’s rant, but his email, which provides a teachable moment in understanding the activist liberal mind.

The subject of the email Spotty sent me was “More bad news for education!” The first paragraph of his post is --
The bad news keeps rolling in for the governor, Captain Fishsticks, and of course, our dear Katie. They so love to bash public education. It must be dismaying to have public school excellence, especially in Minnesota, continually rubbed in their pinched, sour faces.
Spotty assumes that because I argue that parental school choice would improve overall public education, I must regard any achievement of public schools as necessarily a bad thing. I must hope that public education fails, and consequently I‘m willing to sacrifice a child‘s education for the sake of political points. He assumes that the argument for school choice rests solely on public school failure. Nonsense!

Like most liberals and many conservatives, Spotty is locked into the notion that government-run schools and private schools are not both part of a larger system of “public education.” The more choice a system provides, the more opportunity for positive innovation. Conversely, the more monopolistic a system is, the less innovative it becomes and the higher the eggs-in-one-basket risk -- a single bad government innovation affects every student, unlike the failure of a single charter or private school.

I haven’t read the Education Week study, so I can’t comment on what the aggregate numbers really mean, but one doesn’t need to be a statistician to figure out that Spotty is using the same statistical rationale as Education Commissioner Alice Seagren, whom he deplores.

Seagren rationalizes Minnesota’s low proficiency in math and reading scores by pointing out that this year harder tests applied to more rigid standards and given to more students accounted for lower proficiency scores. Well, that may be true, but those scores still indicate that by the standards we’re using today, students are not proficient. Spot on the other hand, says education in Minnesota is great because we are ranked third in the nation in an index that uses the very same proficiency scores to make its ranking.

In other words, an initial skim of the analysis shows that Minnesota is the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Hardly cause for celebration. The point is “public education,” in it’s broadest sense of government-run schools and private schools among other choices, needs to improve. The more choice, the more people innovating, the better the odds of that happening.

And now for the teachable moment -- given Spotty’s projection -- that because I support school choice I must hope for public school failures -- what does that say about how Spotty views the economy? The war in Iraq? Does Spotty hope for a higher unemployment rate to prove the Bush tax cuts are bad? Does he desire more body bags to discredit the war effort? Is it any wonder that we would think that is so? That we might question his compassion? Activist liberals, like prostitutes, generally charge (tax) more to display sincerity.

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