Re: Paying for Schools (was: SOCIETY: Re: The privatization of public security)

From: Mike Linksvayer (
Date: Sun Aug 26 2001 - 02:44:38 MDT

On Sat, Aug 25, 2001 at 01:57:34AM -0700, Zero Powers wrote:
> Of course the only real options would be available to the wealthy. The rest
> of us would be relegated to sending our kids to the $.99 Store school. I
> know that to some it seems only right that only the rich are entitled first
> rate educations for their kids. To me, that just doesn't sit right.

AFAICT that's how it is right now. Wealthy suburbanites send their
kids to acceptable, even good free public schools, the poor send
their kids to rotten public schools. I went to Catholic schools,
but the times I've been inside public schools, I've noted a stark
difference between those in wealthy areas (relatively well maintained)
and those in poor areas (literally reeking). To me, that doesn't
sit right, particularly not from a system often apologized for
because it, and only it, supposedly provides everyone with an equal
shot at getting a decent education.

I think the current inequality of public education goes a long way
towards explaining the near universal support it enjoys, outside
of radical free marketers (fundies aren't against public education,
they just want a piece of the action) -- the well off do get a
decent "free" education for their children, so they have little
incentive to advocate change, and the poor don't have as much
political clout, and have been hoodwinked by the educational
establishment in any case.


Concerning science education, the Wall Street Journal had an article
a week or so ago about a superb maths teacher in NYC (he was
previously coach for the Romanian national math team) who is thinking
about leaving (much to the chagrin of students at his schools)
because with his skills he can easily make much more. Same article
quoted figures for one school district. I don't remember the exact
figures or where the district was (I think a big east coast city),
but the ration of applicants/open positions for math/science teachers
was tiny, for English teachers that ratio was huge. Again, I don't
remember the numbers, but my impression was that it would be easier
to get into an ivy league school than to get an English teaching
job in that school district.

What this says to me is that science/math teachers are underpaid,
and other teachers are possibly overpaid. Unfortunately the teacher
unions will never agree to allow differential pay. They won't even
contemplate merit pay. It's just how long you've been in the system.
What kind of results do you expect?


My pet education reform: Instead of free elementary and high school
everyone gets some amount (say $3k for discussion) each year for
education expenses, broadly construed, but they don't get it till
they turn 18. So at 18, an individual gets $54k to spend on their
education. Why? Parents would then bear the full costs of raising
their children, and children would get the full benefit of the
taxpayers' largess, just at the age when some realize that education
really is important. I think children do deserve some help, they
never asked to be born after all. Free daycare/public school is
of more benefit to parents than it is to kids IMO.

  Mike Linksvayer

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