Friday, August 30, 2013

If you read this post, you're a bad person

Amazing piece on Slate , titled, "If you send your child to private school, you're a bad person"

Here's the thesis:

it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

According to the article, this happens because it's the activist parents who take their kids out, so if they were in, their activism would be channeled into improving the public school.

As of 2007 (latest data I saw, thanks to Andrew Young), 88% of kids go to public schools. So if they stink at this level of participation, somehow getting the last 12% in would make a long-run difference? This I doubt.

I also think, as Alex T. pointed out many years ago, that exit makes voice effective. Or put another way, voice without exit is of limited use (think about complaining at the DMV).

People, you do not owe the government blind support and cooperation. You absolutely do not.




26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ken at Popehat nails it:

"I'm not a Democrat or a Republican. I'm not a big-L Libertarian, although I have small-l libertarian leanings. If you asked me to summarize my domestic political outlook, you could do worse than this: I want to minimize the ability of people like Alison Benedikt, who tend to encrust government, to tell me how to raise my family or live my life"

Tununak said...

After the Glorious Revolution we will all have to send our kids to public school.

Except Party leaders like President Obama, of course.

Anonymous said...

adding back in the most affluent and educated 12% wouldn't change anything? this you doubt?

imagine removing the top 12% from a university or sports team or business.

Congratulations Angus. You've posted the dumbest item on the Internet today. not easy to do.

Anonymous said...

Dude, comparing schools to the DMV is something of a leap. Get help.

In the case of schools, the government is us. We all enjoy the benefits of having an educated citizenry, whether they are our kids or not.

Angus said...

1. 2/3 of the kids in private schools are in religious schools. Probably not in the top 12% of rich/affluent families. That info is available at the link I posted.

Any while "not change anything" is a ridiculous bar, no I don't think banning private schools would come close to fixing the problems with bad public schools. Are there a lot of rich activist parents living in inner-city school districts?

2. People with kids in private schools still pay taxes to fund the public schools. I am kid-free, but still pay over $3000/year for the local public school system.

3. If you think "the government is us" you are probably reading the wrong blog.

Anonymous said...

1. It isn't just the private schools. It's the mechanism of using property taxes to fund schools, charter schools and magnets without bus service to favor attendance by a (more affluent and educated) subset of parents, etc.

Of the religious schools, 2/3 of those are catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, or jewish -- not exactly places where one finds the poor and downtrodden. You don't do much empirical work, do you?

2. The mechanism isn't money, which betrays your ignorance of this problem. It's parents in schools bugging teachers, serving on PTA's, etc.

3. If you think the DMV is the same as the local PTA, you're probably living in the wrong country.

Mike said...

3. If you think "the government is us" you are probably reading the wrong blog.

Hah! That made me smile.

I also laughed at Anonymous at 11:07. That might be the dumbest thing posted on the internet today.

Anonymous at 12:20: #2, the mechanism is money. It is always the mechanism. The public schools always get my money. Without my kids even attending. The Catholic Schools get my money, and they have to earn it.

The public schools are not responsive to the parents. They don't have to be, except in possibly some of the nicer suburbs of large cities. If you think I as a parent would have any influence in the Dallas school district, I would in turn think you work at the DMV. In my experience, the complaints of just a handful of parents can get a teacher fired at a Catholic school. That would never happen at a public school.

I am involved with the Catholic schools. I have coached sports teams. I always have participated in fundraising activities, etc. I have almost never had to be concerned about classroom issues, as the power of my tuition dollars really does serve to take care of most of those issue.

So yes, voice has to have exit or it is not effective.

Anonymous said...

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/rgs_dissertations/2006/RAND_RGSD205.pdf

There's tons of evidence parental involvement in schools matters.

And you'd have to do a better job on the money story -- not all Catholic schools are desperate for students and instead have long waiting lists. Like most Libertarians, you're assuming schools are like consumer markets and that being able to fire a teacher is always good.

It isn't. The assumption that whiney parents pressuring teachers at private schools = good education would take a lot to prove.

William Bruce said...

If lovin' private schools is wrong, I don't wanna be right...

kebko said...

School is just the beginning. I think everyone should attend public churches, too. The moral foundations of a society are too important to give in to these choice addicts....

...and food, too. Why are the poor stuck shopping at Wal-Mart while the rich escape to Whole Foods? Is there anything more important than nutrition? If we could get these gated-community elites back into the real world by having everyone shop at the state-run co-op grocery, maybe poor kids would have more healthy choices.

The rich need to learn that it's not worth being the king of the mountain if you're surrounded by fat, ignorant, Godless heathens with diabetes. And, just like Ms. Benedikt makes clear, that is exactly what the bottom half becomes when we aren't forced to bathe them in the shining light of their betters. People have to be team players if we're going to make this work!

Anonymous said...

I like that mike, who is involved and has probably never had or seen a teacher fired, assumes it's not his involvenent helping -- it's the implicit threat based on tuition.

way to base an argument on a counter factual.

Anonymous said...

I'd say this: "If every single parent who thought his or her kid was getting mediocre schooling at the local public school would pull their kid out, and demand that their taxes not fund crap, the schools would get better. It would not take generations, you'd see improvements quickly."

Andrew said...

This whole thing is such a false debate, as you point out Angus. The alternative to private schools for rich families is not crappy public schools, it is geographic relocation to a district that isn't crappy. This is already what happens, and "tuition" isn't paid to private schools, it is capitalized in housing values.

AD said...

To the Anonymous who's reading the wrong blog:

Even if all of the kids in private schools were the top students and it had an effect on the public schools they would attend, which public schools do you think all of these rich, high performing students would attend? The failing urban schools that need the most help? No, if you forced their parents to put them in public school, many of them would move to where the best schools are.

Xerographica said...

"Exit, not merely Voice, is a way to make government-run schools more effective." Art Carden wrote that and linked me here!

But this concept really can't only be applicable to government run schools. It's applicable to all government programs.

Yet, I haven't had much success convincing others of the value of allowing taxpayers to choose where their taxes go. Why is that? Can you do a post on pragmatarianism? That would be really awesome.

Anonymous said...

it's always so cute when libertarians rail about the government on the Internet. the Internet after all was a huge government sponsored boondoggle that few of you would have wanted to throw your tax dollars at.

once you opt out of a government program by choosing where your tax dollars go, how bout you not take advantage of it when it suits you?

I'm printing up t-shirts: "Public Schools: Just like the DMV but with Longer Lines." Who wants one?

Anonymous said...

Nothing as cool as a tenured teacher at a public school sucking down six figures annually from the public teat with a blog talking about exit.

Mike said...

I'm pretty certain that few of the anonymous commenters read Steve Sailer's blog, so here is a very interesting comment on the Slate article linked above.

Mike said...

Also, Angus' being a tenured prof at a public university does not preclude him from advocating different policies that what he benefits from personally.

When you see him lobbying to prevent/make more expensive students attending, say, USC or Notre Dame, I think you can complain. If you see him discriminating against private school graduates for admission to his graduate programs, I think you can complain again.

Angus doesn't need my help defeding himself, I does so because others make the same complaint of me. As a small l libertarian/classical liberal, people say I'm a hypocrite if I take advantage of government benefits.

That is just crap. I've paid for those programs. Admittedly against my will, but so what? I look at taking the government benefits I'm eligible for as a way to reduce my tax burden. I look at my taking government benefits as a way to highlight how so many government programs benefit the middle class at the expense of the poor.

I could go on.

And yes, I could detail the firing of two teachers at my children's schools.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it does. If you don't work in the private sector, and have always been supported by the state, and no one can fire you, railing against the government, taxes, and public schools wears thin. I pretty much don't want to hear from libertarians who get more from the government than they give.

What many libertarians want is to keep the benefits they have and reduce the benefits they don't use at this moment in time. And they would love to pick where their tax dollars go, never expecting that a lot of America might defund their mortgage interest deduction, and public universities, etc.

Xerographica said...

Anonymous, libertarians are the only ones who want the most bang for their buck? Let's find out if that's true. You paypal me $1000 and I'll send you my belly button lint collection. Deal?

Markets work because consumers give their positive feedback (money) to the producers who give them the most value for their money/sacrifice. As a result, we maximize the value that we derive from society's limited resources.

Therefore, if we created a market in the public sector and allowed taxpayers to shop for themselves, the least beneficial government organizations would lose revenue and the most beneficial government organizations would gain revenue.

Anonymous said...

and that's why deregulation of the airlines and telecoms worked so well!

Mike said...

Angus doesn't need my help defeding himself, I does so...

Wow. I didn't start drinking until later in the afternoon.

Xerographica said...

Anonymous, yeah, because privatization and pragmatarianism are the same thing. Might want to review the FAQ and try again.

Jim Oliver said...

Let us not forget that private do not do much better than public schools educationally. That weakens her premise.

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