Monday, June 07, 2010

March 2, 2006

Why are you reading this?

As professional members of the educorporate training collective we often turn our gaze in the direction of matters pedagogical. Hence the drinking. And as denizens of the classroom for more years than we care to admit to now, we offer you this little tidbit of prognostication: The young are going to kill us. Offered for your consideration:   Don't Think Of Them As Charter Schools, Think Of Them As Snake Oil Salesmen Retirement Communities.
We generally don't pay too much attention to the pundit class, other than occasionally wondering how they can say some of the things they say without their heads exploding, but we recently ran across this column by John Stossel, and having watched as much as we could of his recent spit flecked rant about schools we thought we'd give it a perusal and see if his new medication had been effective.

Apparently not, for the mustache writes:

Bureaucrats like to say, you will go to this school, because we said so, and you will be taught according to this program, because we said so and we know best. Those of us with confidence in markets think you could do better deciding for yourself.

Yep. No one is in a better position to decide for him or herself where to go to school than a kindergartner, unless its a kindergartner's parents who work full time, try to have some home life and look forward to driving all over the country checking out schools all of which, because of the "free market" spend most of their budget on advertising that promises to make every child a genius. It's 25 degrees and snow here now John. We'd like to go to school in San Diego. Can you arrange that for us?

Educational experts, freed from the massive regulations that snarl the public schools, can come up with new and better ideas for teaching.

Umm...except there is no regulation that prevents educational experts from coming up with new and better ways of teaching. In fact, most teachers will tell you that they are bombarded with so many new and different ways of teaching they often can't keep them straight and hence the phrase "pedagogy du jour."

No one individual can begin to imagine what competition would create.

Well, you may have a point there Johnny boy. Just look what competition did for the airline (can you say bankrupt) industry, and the energy (can you say Enron) industry. Oh, and let's not forget what Bechtel did for competition when they privatized the water supply in
Cochabamba, Bolivia. All those peasants competing for a drink of water, now there's some free market sumpin sumpin all up in your grill Mr. Third World dirt farmer. Deal with it! Who's got your charter now Jose?

Would you keep going back to a restaurant that served you a bad meal? Or a barber that gave you a bad haircut? Competition makes everything better.

Ah...John? Educating human beings to take their places as functioning members of a democratic society is a tad bit more complicated than making a ham sandwich or getting the balance right on your mustache trim. Just saying.

So many students want to get into charter schools many have to hold lotteries.

Well, it is a gamble, we'll give you that. The kids could end up here, or here, or here, or here, or here or here, or the biggest losing ticket of all, here.

In 2001, Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby found that Milwaukee's private school vouchers made the nearby public schools change. Competition worked — for human beings, and for public education.

Erm...would that be this Caroline Hoxby?

Well, let's leave Mr. Stossel to converse with the voices in his head and go ask an actual educator what his views are on the subject. Dr. Bracey, what do you have to say about Mr. Stossel's argument?

In retrospect, this was a hopelessly naïve and simplistic notion of the way schools operate, but it caught many people's fancy. It has proved to be the latest in the apparently never-ending fusillade of magic bullets targeted at the schools.

Heh. Indeedy.

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