Problem? What Problem?

Almost without fail, whenever there’s an article or blog post that attacks the “public” school system, you get some goo-goo type who chimes in with “but when all the schools are privatized, how are the poor going to get an education?”  Now, to be fair, I realize that in most cases this isn’t meant as some kind of blanket endorsement of the school system in its current configuration; it’s based more on an assumption that the likely alternative to shitty schools is no schools, and, given these two choices, shitty schools win by default.  For my part, I’m inclined to believe that herding a bunch of kids into dysfunctional day prisons is worse than pretty much any alternative, but I’m an incurable romantic and an incurable cynic, and therefore somebody who definitely does not have to be taken seriously on the subject.

Anyhow, here’s a pretty standard-issue analysis of “the problem with the schools,” which I heard on my local NPR affiliate on my way in to work this morning.  The gist is that “we” pay teachers at posh suburban schools too much money, and “we” don’t pay teachers at tough inner-city schools enough money; now all we have to do is pay the city teachers more money and, voila!, a happier and more productive—not to mention civic-minded!—citizenry.  It’s endlessly fascinating to me how this kind of tripe passes the laugh test, while the suggestion that maybe the system itself is the problem is merely the feckless jabbering of arrested adolescence.

There is no “we,” asswipe.  I’m sure there are plenty of good liberals in these affluent suburban school districts, people who take it for granted that “society” should pay for the education of the underprivileged, but watch how quickly they circle the Volvos at the slightest hint of any policy that might threaten little Reilly or Shane’s ability to get a leg up in the college admissions sweepstakes.  There’s no problem with the school system.  It’s working just fine for them.

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2 thoughts on “Problem? What Problem?

  1. Bueno.

    Since I went to private K-6 and public schools in Our Nation’s Finest Public School System (Montgomery Co., MD) I have good experience with the difference between Expensive Public Schools and private schools.

    The difference in academic result isn’t reducible to the spending of money. The difference is in the rigor of the program, the seriousness & commitment of the teachers overall, and the priorities used by the school’s headmaster/principal. On the whole, private schools don’t bloat up with middle-management that justifies itself bureaucratically rather than through student satisfaction or academic rigor.

    We throw plenty of taxpayer $$ at public schools. The problem is waste, bloat, and puffery in the spending of that $$.

    America’s current problems aren’t due to poor public school education. They’re due to people distracting themselves with gadgets, TeeVee, and bullshit “news” that is no more than inflammatory crap and celebrity gossip. Public school underfunding isn’t the cause of that.

    • Thanks Karl. Good points. And in the case of inner city schools where a lot of the kids just don’t give a shit about being there at all, I’m not sure how paying the teachers more is going to do anything about that. I went to supposedly good public schools (Bucks Co., PA) and I can say that, well paid or not, a lot of the teachers sucked, and even the ones that didn’t weren’t going to get through to the kids (myself included here) who thought the whole thing was a waste of time.

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