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Old 12-12-2006, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
944 posts, read 3,575,613 times
Reputation: 406

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
.....some employers would decide to pay low wages anyway and end up punishing workers
Adjust the penalty for paying low wages to meet market prices for labor. It's not just the employer who makes the decision. If there is a system that rewards employers for paying the average wage, then labor has power and flexibility. An abusive employer would be punished not just by the tax system but also by having inferior employees.
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Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
Some of your ideas seem a little "out there" to me
I'm more than a little "out there" to begin with, my ideas follow.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
...if you gave everybody vouchers, what would keep the "good" private schools from raising their prices to keep out the low-income students?
Go back to the starting point --- we're talking about an economic system that, through market incentives, tends to move people toward an "average" level of income. So the current discrepancies are reduced, though there must still be enough incentive and inequality to give people incentives. Communism is a blatant failure for reasons that any ecologist can explain.

You have good points about the fact that even if you've got less socioeconomic inequity, there are still other kinds of inequity that we cannot change through legislation. Special needs, behavioral problems, racism, etc. I leave the discussion open as to how to address those problems within the sparse framework I laid out. I think there are many people much smarter than me who can do a better job of addressing such issues. Perhaps you're one of them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
...the parents who relied completely on the vouchers would end up sending their kids to inferior schools...
Keep in mind that all locations would have the same vouchers. People in high-income areas have higher expenses, higher rents on school facilities, etc. So I think that the same amount of money in a poor area would go farther toward creating good schools. In the wealthier areas, do I have a right to force them to have inferior schools as compared to what they can achieve if they're left alone?
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
There's also the issue of accountability... especially in the "cheaper" schools, what could be done to ensure that these schools would effectively teach kids what they needed to know...
Yup, that's the biggest gaping hole in my ideas, and I've had long chats with many people about it. We've usually come to the agreement that the transition would be painful and ugly but in the long run, through the free flow of information and feedback mechanisms, schools would all be pulled UP toward what is best for children because parents would be empowered to make smart choices for their kids and they'd have the money to back those choices. But it would be a painful process, no question about that.
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Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
Another thing... what about the "special needs" kids, etc. who couldn't get accepted into the private schools?
Invent your own solution. You could have rules that exclude such bias, for example. You could go totally libertarian and provide a major database that shows how exclusive schools are unethical and you'd allow the natural process of social pressure take care of the problem. It's wide open to different possible solutions for ANY problem you can think of!
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
Maybe it would work better if you fixed the prices and therefore gave every kid an equal opportunity to go to whatever school they wanted to go to; however, this would go completely against the whole libertarian free-market ideal...
Yup. Smart questions are often more useful than smart answers. I think you nailed it perfectly. We don't give up, though, we take your intelligent questions and focus many sharp minds on working out those bugs in the system.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
I agree with you that it would have a great immediate effect... but it's the mid and long-term effects that I'm worried about.
Interesting, I see it as short term problems with long term solutions. But it's all politically impossible because power is so unequal and the average person doesn't like to think. There's no way my idealized school system can work.
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Old 12-12-2006, 01:16 PM
 
Location: Your mind
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Yeah... see that's what I'm afraid of. In the theoretical world I'm sure you could devise a perfect private school system that would serve kids a lot better than the public schools we have now, but in the real world there's politicians, racism, greed, monopolies, all kinds of factors. The proposal's really risky and it might stand a chance of working, but I don't know if I would trust the conservative politicians who're pushing for it to implement it in the best way. Some seem too ruthless about it -- like the whole idea of "starving" public schools to make them worse than they are so that people will be more receptive to privatization... I've heard some people say that was part of the point behind the underfunded No Child Left Behind thing although it could just be a conspiracy theory...
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Old 12-12-2006, 02:16 PM
 
Location: Maine
15,080 posts, read 19,718,275 times
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Complete privatization of education will ultimately result in the wealthy having a decent education, while the poor will have almost none. It may take a few years to shake out that way, but that's what you'll end up with. It will be Dickensian England all over again.

I'll be the first to admit that our public education system is in need of SEVERE reform, but complete privatization is not the answer.

I'm honestly baffled by the widespread acceptance of the cult of privatization. Yes, some things should be privatized, but some things need to remain firmly in the commons. "Privatization" more often than not is simple code for turning service industries into "for profit" industries. In other words, making the rich even richer. Our healthcare system is already in shambles because of that thinking. We don't want our education system to sink in a similar boat.
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Old 12-12-2006, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
944 posts, read 3,575,613 times
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Fishmonger and MarkS:

You both assume that the conservative proposals for privatization are the only possible ways to do it.

Why don't you call for public farms, public clothing manufacturers, public everything, if you so distrust the private sector?

The problem with Republican plans is that they underfund and completely miss the mark on their so-called "reforms", although their scattered successes are an indicator of what could lie ahead if we do it right.

MarkS--- I didn't call for "complete privatization" in the sense you're alluding to. I call for "complete freedom of choice" that is sufficiently funded by the public sector. Almost all the anti-choice rhetoric is coming from the teachers' unions because they don't want their monopoly to be broken up. Imagine if we were talking about breaking up oil monopolies, wouldn't you be in favor of that? Why is it different for education? Why do we worship public schools as some kind of sacred institution that we cannot touch without damaging the poor, the children, etc.? It's all fear tactics to prevent people from contemplating real alternatives to the failed system we currently have.
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Old 12-12-2006, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Lake Norman Area
1,431 posts, read 3,571,011 times
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Just for the record, a proud "Rush is right!" fan here!
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Old 12-12-2006, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Maine
15,080 posts, read 19,718,275 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Why don't you call for public farms, public clothing manufacturers, public everything, if you so distrust the private sector?
I distrust the private sector because it is unaccountable, and the policies and decisions it undertakes are most often done in secret. All corporations these days even go so far as to make employees sign Non-Disclosure Agreements. It's all very hush-hush.

Ideally, what I want is for most industries to be locally owned and operated. I love the family-owned farm. I hate and loathe agri-business corporations. Same with clothing manufacters and most other industries I could name.

There are a few things --- education, defense, the police, health care, environmental issues --- that ought to remain firmly in the commons, in the hands of the people. Not in the hands of a few government bureaucrats and certainly not in the hands of a few CEOs who are accountable to no one but their shareholders.

I'm all for private schools. My kids go to a private school. But public education is a must for a just and decent society. Yes, we need to give our public schools severe reform. They are sick, no doubt. But killing the patient is not the cure for this disease. We want the patient well and healthy again.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
The problem with Republican plans is that they underfund and completely miss the mark on their so-called "reforms".
See. That exactly illustrates my problem with privatizing the schools. Republican plans still want public funding, but they are taking that funding out of the hands of local school boards, which are accountable to the voters, and handing them over to for-profit companies, who are accountable to no one but their shareholders.

If your public schools are a mess, vote the bums out. If that doesn't work, run for office yourself. But don't turn our schools into McLearning and School-Marts.
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Old 12-12-2006, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
944 posts, read 3,575,613 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
I distrust the private sector because it is unaccountable...
Interesting --- seems to me the public sector is even LESS accountable. In the private sector you can "fire" companies by choosing the competition. With public schools there is no accountability because you have no such choice. Sure, there are schemes like "No Child Left Behind" and similar mush from the Clinton Admin, attempting to hold the schools accountable. But you really should study ecology, economics, or any type of systems theory to see why this doesn't work. Complex systems cannot work when administered in a top-down manner because there is too much information. Intelligence is a bottom-up process. Or do you believe in "Intelligent Design"? I think Public Schools are the educational equivalent of Creationism. And yes, I'm being intentionally blunt because you see to be smart and tough and able to come back at me or get what I'm saying so I'm not gonna go soft on you, I'm showing you respect!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
Ideally, what I want is for most industries to be locally owned and operated. I love the family-owned farm. I hate and loathe agri-business corporations. Same with clothing manufacters and most other industries I could name.
I love Vermont too. I try to support local business. But this is a global economy and you and I wouldn't even be having this discussion if your ideals were implemented because there would be no Internet, no computers, or any of the other inventions that require a globally interconnected free market system. Is that good or bad? I dunno.... I have a lot of sympathy for your point of view, I think we'd be better off in many ways if we were living on communes and just getting smarter while staying relatively primitive with respect to how we travel, build houses, etc. But that's not our reality, so I'm looking at it from the perspective of "this is how things are, now what?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
There are a few things --- education, defense, the police, health care, environmental issues --- that ought to remain firmly in the commons, in the hands of the people. Not in the hands of a few government bureaucrats and certainly not in the hands of a few CEOs
YES!!!! That's exactly how I feel! I'm not even going to explain why you're saying what I'm saying, I think you're smart enough to think about what I previously posted in light of our alignment on these same goals.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
My kids go to a private school. But public education is a must for a just and decent society.
Say what? Why do so many public school advocates put their kids in private schools? Wow.... that makes my argument for me if nothing else does...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
Yes, we need to give our public schools severe reform. They are sick, no doubt. But killing the patient is not the cure for this disease.
Who's killing the patient? Empowerment is what it's all about. Start at the worst places, the urban ghetto schools that everyone knows are disaster areas. If you've ever lived in the 'hood, which I have, then you know there is a wealth of information, power, creativity and love that is ready to be unleashed if it's empowered. But the current system hamstrings these inner-city schools and dumbs them down. I say give all the parents of those kids the MONEY and POWER to make choices, and see what happens. They are the ones who know what they need. They don't need another graduation class of well-meaning know-it-alls coming into their world trying to tell them how to fix their problems. They need to be free to fix those problems themselves, and in order to do that they need government off their backs and they need those funds that would be the same for them as it would be for kids in wealthy areas.

Don't forget, part of my overall vision is to drastically reduce the gap between rich and poor... and also remember this is all theory we're talking about!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
If your public schools are a mess, vote the bums out. If that doesn't work, run for office yourself. But don't turn our schools into McLearning and School-Marts.
Scare tactics. You have no evidence to back up your claim that empowered parents would opt en masse to put their kids in School-Marts. Are you afraid of what would happen if we allowed McSchools, Islamic schools, Black Panther schools, Music-oriented schools, and all other possibilities? I'm not. It would lead to a certain amount of chaos but out of chaos arises everything creative and brilliant. Conformity breeds mediocrity and ultimately death. Look at every centrally-controlled economy --- the only ones surviving have adopted market reforms because there is no top-down system capable of processing the information involved in making the intelligent decisions that are made when the system is ecological rather than command-and-control.
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Old 12-12-2006, 04:06 PM
 
Location: Your mind
2,923 posts, read 4,485,315 times
Reputation: 589
Default Well...

it's not so much that I think conservative proposals for it are the only possible option; it's more that with the two-party system we have right now any proposal with a chance of succeeding would likely come from the Republicans, who, as you mentioned, don't have a great track record of providing enough funding to execute their own plans well and (in my moderately left-wing view) tend to put too much faith in the strength of lassiez-faire economics. I don't think it stands a chance of happening right now with the Democrats in power, anyway, but the best possible chance for a decent privatized school system, I think (or at least with the current two-party system) would be in a more bipartisan congress with the Republicans holding a slim majority, so that they would have to moderate their proposals to appease the more liberal legislators. Even then I would have my doubts, though. The whole issue is very complicated and I don't understand it completely, as I haven't researched it enough, but for now since the situation I mentioned above seems very unlikely to me, I'd rather not worry about it and concentrate instead on making the public schools we have better to help out the kids who are currently going through the system.

My main issue is that I fear the implications of the "pandora's box" that could be opened by putting the nation's kids at the mercy of a free-market educational system. It would (I think out of necessity) be much harder for the government to monitor and a lot harder to prevent discriminatory practices; also the more you regulated this, the more the schools would be open to lawsuits (both justified and frivolous) that would damage the efficiency that the privatization would attempt to create. My other issue is the "bottom rung" private schools that would likely be created to cater to the parents who would rely entirely on the vouchers to pay for their kids' education. To me it would be too easy for these schools to come to an agreement, in a manner similar to other private enterprises, to uniformly minimize their expenses on teachers, facilities, computers, etc. in order to maximize profits coming from the guaranteed student body of an economic demographic without the means to send their kids to more expensive schools. The poorest families would then be deprived of real "choice" because they'd just be choosing between one predatory cheap school system or the other. The government could regulate this to an extent, but not nearly to the extent they can with a public school system.

I guess the main issue for me is whether or not the public school system is truly broken beyond repair and whether a situation similar to the one I described above would be preferrable to what we have now. I'm not sure whether the ailing inner-city and rural school systems are truly beyond all hope of reform or improvement.
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Old 12-12-2006, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
944 posts, read 3,575,613 times
Reputation: 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
...with the two-party system we have right now any proposal with a chance of succeeding would likely come from the Republicans, who, as you mentioned, don't have a great track record of providing enough funding to execute their own plans...
Yeah, I'm way off in a world of theory and I know it. I have a hard time getting myself to vote because there's nobody who I agree with on any ballot.
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Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
...I'd rather not worry about it and concentrate instead on making the public schools we have better to help out the kids who are currently going through the system.
You're probably taking the more pragmatic short-term route to addressing real problems. I'm a dreamer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishmonger View Post
My main issue is that I fear the implications of the "pandora's box" that could be opened by putting the nation's kids at the mercy of a free-market educational system. It would (I think out of necessity) be much harder for the government to monitor and a lot harder to prevent discriminatory practices; also the more you regulated this, the more the schools would be open to lawsuits (both justified and frivolous) that would damage the efficiency that the privatization would attempt to create. My other issue is the "bottom rung" private schools that would likely be created to cater to the parents who would rely entirely on the vouchers to pay for their kids' education. To me it would be too easy for these schools to come to an agreement, in a manner similar to other private enterprises, to uniformly minimize their expenses on teachers, facilities, computers, etc. in order to maximize profits coming from the guaranteed student body of an economic demographic without the means to send their kids to more expensive schools. The poorest families would then be deprived of real "choice" because they'd just be choosing between one predatory cheap school system or the other.
Wow... I've been debating this for about 11 years and that's the best argument against my views that I've ever seen! You win... um..... NOTHING! But I give you a tip of my hat for coming up with a very intelligent reason to improve the current system rather than going with something that opens that mythical box of potential new problems. I still hold to the general view that bottom-up systems are the basis of life itself (I'm no creationist, that's for sure) and thus I believe that in the long run the most intelligent "designs" are not designed at all, they evolve. But the problem with evolution is that most mutations result in death, and that would be tough to watch happen to our children, metaphorically speaking. We don't have geological time to play with, and I tend to think on long time horizons as a nature-and-science freak. Perhaps 'tis best to leave me in the "idea tank" and keep me at a safe distance from actually policy formulation!
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Old 12-12-2006, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Maine
15,080 posts, read 19,718,275 times
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Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Interesting --- seems to me the public sector is even LESS accountable.
No, because if your public servants are not serving the needs of the community, you can vote them out. You can even run against them and take their job. (Albeit we need to kick all lobbyists out of our legislative halls for this to become truly democratic.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
In the private sector you can "fire" companies by choosing the competition.
Tell that to my hometown where Wal-Mart has put most of the home-owned businesses out of business. You can’t buy toys for your kids anywhere in town anymore except at Wal-Mart. They have completely squashed the competition (largely through unfair business practices) and become a monopoly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
With public schools there is no accountability because you have no such choice.
Sure there is. Go to the PTA and raise holy H.E. double hockey sticks. Speak to your representatives. If your voice isn’t heard, run against them in the next election.

Now try getting the CEO or any of the shareholders of your insurance company on the phone. See which is easier.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Complex systems cannot work when administered in a top-down manner because there is too much information.
Which is why power should be concentrated locally --- and I mean that in terms of business as well as education. Most of the policy decisions for local schools should come from local teachers, administrators, students, parents, and citizens. Is that system in need of reform? You betcha. But handing it over to for-profit business interests is not the answer. Their main concern is the bottom line, not the education of our children.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
But this is a global economy and you and I wouldn't even be having this discussion if your ideals were implemented because there would be no Internet, no computers, or any of the other inventions that require a globally interconnected free market system.
Sure there would. But instead of having only two choices for your computer (Mac or PC?), you’d have dozens.

I’m all for fair trade, be it on the local or global level. But in today’s economy, “free trade” and “fair trade” have become too far separated.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Why do so many public school advocates put their kids in private schools?
Because the public schools are a mess, and in our area, they’re downright dangerous once you get to high school level. I don’t deny it for an instant. But that doesn’t mean I’m willing and eager to hand our public schools over to Mr. Moneybags. We need a solution, yes. But that solution is worse than the problem.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
I say give all the parents of those kids the MONEY and POWER to make choices, and see what happens. They are the ones who know what they need.
Sadly, a lot of the ’hood’s problems are not the result of bad schools but of bad parents. Not in all cases sure, but in enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to call it an epidemic. When nearly 70% of African American children are born in out-of-wedlock households, we have a problem at a more fundamental level than the local schoolhouse.

Remember Bill Cosby’s remarks a couple of years ago?

"They think they're hip. They can't read; they can't write. They're laughing and giggling, and they're going nowhere." --- Bill Cosby, at the Chicago Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund's annual conference.

That’s a parenting problem, not a public school problem.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
They need to be free to fix those problems themselves, and in order to do that they need government off their backs
What does that mean exactly? What low-income areas need are a living wage, decent health care, and safe streets. All of which are going to come through government intervention, not handing more power over to Big Business.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Are you afraid of what would happen if we allowed McSchools, Islamic schools, Black Panther schools, Music-oriented schools, and all other possibilities?
I know what would happen. We’d end up with a lot of very rich CEO’s of the McSchools and a lot of very poorly educated children.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Conformity breeds mediocrity and ultimately death.
Tell that to the Marine Corps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deeptrance View Post
Look at every centrally-controlled economy --- the only ones surviving have adopted market reforms because there is no top-down system capable of processing the information involved in making the intelligent decisions that are made when the system is ecological rather than command-and-control.
If you look at the so-called “Golden Age” of the Middle Class, you’ll see strong unions, a diversity of employment opportunities, lots of locally owned and operated industry, and very few monopolies.

Last edited by Mark S.; 12-12-2006 at 04:50 PM..
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