Blog author: jcarter
by on Thursday, October 24, 2013

school-taxWhen it comes to public education, racial bias has not been acceptable for almost fifty years. So why is religious bias still tolerated?

If we really want to promote religious liberty and educational reform, says Charles L. Glenn, we have to end the public school monopoly:

[T]he rich diversity and energy that has been the glory of American religious life was, by the early twentieth century, largely suppressed in American K–12 schooling, though it continued at the collegiate level. This was not primarily through the regulatory efforts of state governments—that would come later—but through an emerging consensus among a class of professional educational administrators, part of the Progressive movement, who sought to create what historian David Tyack has called “the one best system.”

Accompanying this development over the course of the later nineteenth century was a growing popular concern about what was seen as the divisive and even subversive effects of Roman Catholicism, associated with immigrants and with contemporary conflicts in Western Europe. The efforts of Catholics to provide their own schools, as was the norm in most of the countries from which the immigrants came, was seen as a refusal to allow their children to become absorbed into American life, and rejection of Catholic demands for public funding of those schools became a winning formula in many elections.

Read more . . .


  • http://300wordtheses.blogspot.co.uk/ Gerry Dorrian

    In the UK there’s a clear religious bias regarding schools: Christian schools are attacked as elitist, yet the al-Madinah school in Birmingham was allowed to operate until things got as bad as they possibly could. It’s time our politicians remembered that this is a Christian country!

  • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

    First, what public school monopoly? There is certainly no monopoly over students. Students have choices. The question then becomes is this a battle over the public school’s monopoly over public funding? Since public schools are struggling with funding already, how is it that the diversion of public funds towards private and religious schools will not destroy what is there?

    In addition, if private and religious schools are receiving tax money, what voice is given to the taxpayers regarding the material taught and the administration of the schools? It’s not that taxpayers are given a great voice anyway but at least there is some accountability through elections and voice through hearings. What voice will taxpayers have?

    Public schools are struggling for a variety of reasons to which all of the major stakeholders contribute. There is no escape from their problems by moving students over to private and religious schools in the numbers needed to provide an education for all if the public system is destroyed. And the idea of a common school is no myth. What I see here is another religious grab for power and funds.

    • Marc Vander Maas

      First of all, I’d correct your language – it’s not students who have (or should have) choices; it’s parents. Parents are (or should be) responsible for the education of their children, not the state.

      As for the issue of funding, let me pause and weep for the poor, deprived public schools that are struggling so hard with funding right now. I just did some googling, and found some information on per-student spending by state. In FY 2011, the last year that information is available in that chart, an average public school student in Michigan (where I live) received more than twice as much funding from the state for their education than what I have paid in tuition over the past few years at my children’s private school.

      And let’s note the constant struggle that the local private school has to engage in to keep tuition as low as possible, so as to be able to survive against their chief competitor, the public school that charges no tuition at all.

      Now of course, that’s not true. That per-pupil spending can actually be seen as the cost of tuition at the public school, and it’s immediately clear to anyone that pays monthly tuition at a private school just how expensive public education is in comparison. But no one really knows that, because people don’t write a check for public school tuition. They pay taxes. In Michigan, it’s property taxes. In many cases, that payment is virtually invisible, because it’s paid completely in the background as part of your monthly mortgage payment. The fact of the matter is that most people have no real-world understanding of how much they pay to educate their kids because they’re shielded from the actual cost by the process of paying taxes. Kind of like what has happened with health care. Perhaps there’s a pattern here…

      I will also note that the state makes no acknowledgement of my efforts to privately educate my child. I pay just as much in tax as my neighbors, and it all goes into the big state pot from which public school funding is drawn. This is in spite of the fact that I am relieving the state of the cost of educating my kids and shouldering it myself in order to have them educated in a manner consistent with my values. In theory, the fact that I privately educate my two kids is saving the state around $22,000 per year. In reality, the state takes the money and spends away as if I were doing nothing at all, and doesn’t even send a thank you card.

      This is all aside from the fact – which I’m certain you know – that more education spending does not correlate to a higher quality product. Just as an example: the Washington DC public school system, as of the 2009-10 school year, spent approximately $29,500 per student. The graduation rate for the DC public schools as of 2013? 57%. Also note in that last link that the Washington Post reports a national graduation rate of 75%. According to this Department of Education report, as recently as 2009, total outlays for public elementary and secondary education come in at $519 BILLION dollars. That amounts to spending well over a half a trillion dollars to graduate 3/4 of students from high school, and that’s not to mention the chunk of the graduates who require remedial education in college to teach them the stuff they didn’t learn in high school.

      Again, allow me to pause and weep for the poor, underfunded public schools. If only we spent a full trillion.

      As for receiving tax money to fund my child’s education – No thank you. Don’t want it. Don’t want the strings that come with it. Lord knows I don’t want Curt Day influencing the direction of the school’s curriculum on economics. What I wouldn’t mind from the state is some sort of acknowledgement of my personally shouldering the cost of my children’s education in the form of a tax credit or some such mechanism, so I don’t have to pay twice for the education of my kids.

      So to get to your original point: What public school monopoly? I suppose it’s correct that there are other educational options for parents; private schools do exist, yes, and there are charter schools and the like (which are really just a different flavor of public schools). But the fact remains: a “free” system of brick-and-mortar public schools makes it very likely that private education, over time, will become the province of only the very wealthy. Most middle and lower class families will send their kids to the “free” schools, which leaves a very small pool of potential students for private schools. Any school that charges tuition is at a severe disadvantage to those that don’t. As I mentioned earlier, a small private school has to struggle mightily to keep tuition at a level where it remains affordable for the families interested in sending their kids to the school, but provides enough income to the school to pay a decent salary to the teachers, administrators, and custodial staff. (I will note that this is a major part of the reason why my kids’ school is remarkably efficient in terms of the cost of administration, something that in general cannot be said for public schools.) Over the long term, it’s very difficult to sustain; many schools, faced with declining enrollment syphoned off by the “free” system that they compete with, are forced either to close or simply give up trying to be affordable, catering instead to the wealthy who don’t have to worry as much about budgeting for tuition.

      So the reality is that the public schools operate from a monopoly position and continue to choke the life out of private education in America. Private education is financially out of reach for much of the lower and middle class, and the structure of the American education system only reinforces that. The shame of it all is that private education is far more accountable to parents than public education could ever be, has greater incentives for parents to be directly involved in their children’s education (writing a monthly check will do that for you), and being market oriented it has the capability to deliver a superior product for a far lower cost overall.

      “Another religious grab for power and funds”? You have got to be kidding me.

      • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

        The stat you gave on average spent per student in Michigan can be a bit misleading. We know what average means. And when we look at the city of Detroit for example, class sizes went up to 40 students for lower grades and 60 to higher grades. But that is Detroit and I doubt if the private school you reference has that problem. BTW, if you look at the Video links page on my blog, you will see an interesting video that talks about the number of tax deals the state of Michigan has made with corporations.

        Parents have a choice where to send their kids. Not getting help from the state for sending their kids to a private or religious school does not mean that parents don’t have a choice. We should note that parents not having the means to send their kids to the school of their choice is not the same as parents not having a choice anymore than saying that I don’t have the choice to buy a more expensive car because I don’t have the means.

        The labeling of not having a choice is nothing more than an effort to divert public funds raised through taxes to religious and private schools. And as we see in Detroit, many of these schools can barely afford to operate let alone lose money.

        And was wondering what the average pay of the teachers is in the private school where you send your kids and how that compares with the average pay of the public school teachers.

        I just retired from teaching college where I taught mostly freshmen. I have many complaints about public schools. But what they are suffering from is a multi front, including sabotage, attack on education. Parents and administrators seem to be working hard to lower academic standards. Parents want more recognition for their kids at the price of diminishing standards while administrators pressure teachers to pass kids regardless of performance. A little while ago, a teach at the public high school my kids went to suffered demands from parents that he be fired because he would actually give low grades and fail students. That crisis died down as his successful former students wrote in testifying how well this teach prepared them for college. Other teachers aren’t always that lucky, even in college. In the meantime, public school teachers don’t employ the help of their unions to resist programs like No Child Left Behind and thus don’t give as full an education to their students as they could. In addition, some teachers teach just for the job security aspect. In addition, many students just go along for the ride when it comes to less demanding high school classes. Finally, there is an over dependence on technology especially in Math. I was giving a quiz to my trig class in which they could not use calculators. They had a problem where they had to divide 34 by 60. 25% of the students said that they could not do the problem–realize that these students either qualified for trig or had taken an algebra class. Of that 25%, 2 or 3 said that it was impossible to solve the problem without a calculator. The over dependence on calculators and other technology has taught the students that only machines can give us the answers. We can’t using our brains.

        The problems that we see in the public schools, some of which is causing a migration to the private schools, are coming the private schools’ way. By then, we will have a shell of a public school system if we divert public funds from the public schools.

        BTW, I wish your kids well in their schools and hope that those schools are preparing the kids for college.

        • Marc Vander Maas

          The stat you gave on average spent per student in Michigan can be a bit misleading. We know what average means. And when we look at the city of Detroit for example, class sizes went up to 40 students for lower grades and 60 to higher grades. But that is Detroit and I doubt if the private school you reference has that problem. BTW, if you look at the Video links page on my blog, you will see an interesting video that talks about the number of tax deals the state of Michigan has made with corporations.

          A simple Google search will reveal that per-pupil funding in the city of Detroit has been comfortably above average, with the average being just over $10,000 per student. Depending on the estimate DPS per-pupil funding is either just above $12,000 or about $15,500 per student. Either way, above average.

          The question then becomes how is that money spent? Are there mechanisms in place to ensure that it is spent wisely? (Evidence points to no) How about the Detroit School Board? Can we have confidence that good people are in charge? (Not really.) The fact is that the large class sizes you reference are far more likely to be caused by mismanagement and borderline chaos within the district than by a lack of funding.

          Considering the track record of the DPS, is it any wonder at all that nearly 80% of Detroiters would prefer to send their kids to a non-DPS school?

          I’m also well aware of the State of Michigan’s tax deals with corporations. You’ll be happy to know that I think the state’s efforts are misguided and often counterproductive. What that has to do with the current level of funding of public education in Michigan is beyond me. I don’t think public schools are underfunded.

          Parents have a choice where to send their kids. Not getting help from the state for sending their kids to a private or religious school does not mean that parents don’t have a choice. We should note that parents not having the means to send their kids to the school of their choice is not the same as parents not having a choice anymore than saying that I don’t have the choice to buy a more expensive car because I don’t have the means.

          I’ll be returning to this paragraph the next time I hear you or any other member of the left go on some extended soliloquy about how conservatives are heartless and don’t care about the welfare of the poor.

          The labeling of not having a choice is nothing more than an effort to divert public funds raised through taxes to religious and private schools. And as we see in Detroit, many of these schools can barely afford to operate let alone lose money.

          And I think that’s nonsense on a number of levels. If public schools are having problems operating on the (ahem) HALF TRILLION DOLLARS that we spend nationallly on education each year, I’m going to confidently assert that it says more about how mismanaged they are due to their practical monopoly status than it does about how the greater American public is a bunch of tightwads when it comes to their kids.

          As for your concern about diverting public funds, I’ll note once again: I’m not asking for public funds. What I’m asking is for is for the state to recognize the contribution that I make to my children’s education by not making the funds I spend on private education a part of those public funds in the first place. That way, while my kids are in school and I’m shouldering that cost, I’m not simultaneously forced to subsidize the school that currently directly – and unfairly – competes with the private school that I utilize.

          As for the average pay of the teachers, I can tell you that it’s probably significantly less than what your average public school teacher makes. But I can also assure you that the teachers are paid as much as the school board can pay them while keeping tuition affordable for the families who scrape the money together month by month to keep their kids at the school. And keep in mind, all of this is in the face of competition from the “free” public school just a half mile down the street.

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            Marc,
            The increase in class size has to do with the layoff of teachers. Now when you cite the $10,000 per student as being comparable to the $12,000 to $15,500 per student, you seem to assume that the difference in the Detroit environment with its costs would not have a significant effect. But that is an assumption. What we do know about Michigan is that it has provided one greatest number of corporate tax breaks in the country. And this is part of the reason, though not the only one, why there is this shortfall.

            Could the Detroit school board improve? Most likely. But it is still rather speculative as to how much blame they deserve for the increase in class size when cuts in budgets are involved. In addition, one can compare what is going on in Detroit with what is going on in other cities.

            But Marc, you misrepresented me here. I am from the Left but where, in my last note, did I say that conservatives are heartless toward the poor? I did go on a rant on how all of the stakeholders are responsible for the failure in public schools. And I said in my first note that there is a religious grab for power and funds. Here I am criticizing my fellow religious conservatives. I do believe that there are too many instances where my fellow religious conservatives are vying for power and funds. That does not imply that they are heartless. Like liberals, some are and some aren’t. And like all of us, we are often too enamored with tribal recognition to either be critical of ourselves or give others credit. Everybody has room for improvement from my fellow religious conservatives to my fellow political leftists. And nobody will improve so long as we make this a turf war of words.

          • JohnE

            If there’s any “religious grab” for power and funds, it’s because the state has essentially grabbed all of it already. The “religious grabbers” are parents who want realistic, affordable choices for educating their children. Both of our children go to public school because we simply cannot afford a house and car payment along with tuition of about $400/month/kid (which is actually fairly cheap for private school but still unaffordable). High school is about twice as much. Yet I consistently vote against tax increases for public school funding. I don’t feel we should have to pay more and more to fund public schools when the proponents of more public school funding are the very ones who fight against any sort of tax relief for any other ways we may wish to educate our children, and the increased funding has little effect anyway.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            Curt:
            First of all, I reject the notion that Michigan’s corporate tax break structure (however messed up it is) has anything to do with the problems of the Detroit Public Schools. The Detroit Public Schools are not underfunded. They are simply managed terribly, and have been for decades – in part because they have had no real competition. Considering the way that district has managed its budget in the past, it’s probably a miracle that there haven’t been more layoffs.

            As for misrepresentation: re-read what I wrote. I said I would refer back to that paragraph the next time you or anyone else says that conservatives don’t care about the poor.

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            Marc,
            If the lack of funding because of inadequate tax revenue has contributed to Detroit’s economic problems, and their economic problems has caused Detroit to cut funding to schools, then the conclusion is obvious.

            Where we disagree is whether we can reduce Detroit’s school problems to mismanagement. I can’t voice an informed opinion to whether the schools have been mismanaged and if so to what degree. But when you tell me that Detroit’s cost per student is less than the average understanding that their overhead costs could realistically be higher, then it seems inescapable that underfunding is an issue.

            In addition, bottom line thinking could be misleading. Suppose one school district has lower costs than another, should we assume that that school district is more efficient? What if they are underpaying their employees or not providing environmentally safe schools or not providing essential services?

            Finally, about the misrepresentation, note that I didn’t say conservatives don’t care. But I will say this from the conservatives I personally know. Most of the conservative Christians I know either want some degree of control over society or parts of it or they withdraw. And the schools are one of those areas. Some conservative Christians have valid concerns about sending their kids to public schools. But others I know simply are prejudiced against nonbelievers. But in either case, the predominant but not only sentiment is to either control or withdraw.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            If the lack of funding because of inadequate tax revenue has contributed to Detroit’s economic problems, and their economic problems has caused Detroit to cut funding to schools, then the conclusion is obvious.

            I would venture to guess that whatever problem Detroit has with inadequate tax revenue has more to do with the fact that half of the population of the city has moved out, and the business community has basically been decimated. This article describes the problems the city has in even being able to collect what little taxes it receives from that dwindling tax base. The statement in the article that “Detroit relies on a shrinking sliver of businesses and neighborhoods to pay the bulk of the bills” rings very true to me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Detroit, but over the past few years I’ve done some exploring within the city. There are two areas in Detroit that, to me, feel like a normal city where business actually goes on: the downtown core, basically along Woodward from the stadiums and the Fox Theater down to Jefferson, and the immediate vicinity of the Fisher Building in New Center. You get outside of those areas, and it’s a crapshoot at best. At worst, it looks like a vacant shell. Heck, already back in 1995 you had Camilo Jose Vergara proposing that a section of Detroit’s abandoned skyscrapers (again: abandoned skyscrapers) be stabilized and left as an “American Acropolis” – basically, being left in a state of ruin for the public to view and explore. In the nearly twenty years since then, things have only gotten worse.

            And what are the chances of rebuilding that tax base when Detroit has some of the highest personal income, property, and business taxes in the nation? Why would you live in Detroit, or try to start a business there, when you can do the same at much less cost in Rochester Hills, or Novi, or Sterling Heights or Chesterfield Township?

            And this is all beside the fact that in spite of all of this, the Detroit Public Schools still receive $12,000 per student to educate children, and have only managed to bequeath to the city a population that has a nearly 50% rate of functional illiteracy. Some may say that your patience with the DPS system is admirable; I sort of feel as though it’s lunacy. At what point do you admit that the system doesn’t work? When there’s a 20% graduation rate? When 75% of the population doesn’t have the skills required to work a basic, entry level job?

            Where we disagree is whether we can reduce Detroit’s school problems to mismanagement.

            I haven’t said that the problems of the DPS can be totally reduced to mismanagement. Lord knows that Detroit has major problems with crime, family breakdown, drugs, and so forth. But it’s crazy to pretend that mismanagement isn’t a huge part of the financial problems faced by the DPS today, or that the dysfunction of the DPS doesn’t in turn contribute to the cultural downward spiral of the city. It’s a negative feedback loop.

            I can’t voice an informed opinion to whether the schools have been mismanaged and if so to what degree.

            A good way to start informing yourself is to use Google. I’ll give you a head start: here’s the latest example of DPS mismanagement. That article is just a couple of days old. And remember, the DPS isn’t an anomaly. The entire city of Detroit has been horribly mismanaged, FOR YEARS. Look at this story. I mean, really. Read it. Soak it in. It’s incredible; it’s criminally bad. Go do some research on the Kilpatrick mayoral administration. If you want to have some fun, look into Monica Conyers, wife of longtime congressman John Conyers, former city council member, and now former federal prison inmate. Here’s a fun Monica Conyers story for you. That’s Detroit’s political culture. If that culture doesn’t permeate the schools as well, I’ll eat my hat.

            But when you tell me that Detroit’s cost per student is less than the average understanding that their overhead costs could realistically be higher, then it seems inescapable that underfunding is an issue.

            I never said Detroit’s cost per student is less than average. What I said about Detroit’s per-student funding is that it is between 2,000 and 5,000 above the national per-student average. “Underfunding” is not the issue.

            In addition, bottom line thinking could be misleading. Suppose one school district has lower costs than another, should we assume that that school district is more efficient?

            I suppose that would depend on the results, wouldn’t it? If district A spends half as much as district B, and yet has a better graduation rate, then yes, I’d say it’s more efficient.

            What if they are underpaying their employees or not providing environmentally safe schools or not providing essential services?

            Is the school run by the Sea Org? Did the employees sign billion year contracts? As far as I know, school employees do have the ability to find other employment if they aren’t satisfied with their pay.

            As for essential services and environmentally safe schools, I think parents and school board members are perfectly capable of determining for themselves what they feel is essential and safe.

            Finally, about the misrepresentation, note that I didn’t say conservatives don’t care. But I will say this from the conservatives I personally know. Most of the conservative Christians I know either want some degree of control over society or parts of it or they withdraw. And the schools are one of those areas. Some conservative Christians have valid concerns about sending their kids to public schools. But others I know simply are prejudiced against nonbelievers. But in either case, the predominant but not only sentiment is to either control or withdraw.

            So you think that a parent’s desire to control their child’s education is something nefarious? I’m a conservative Christian, and I believe to my core that my children have been given to my wife and I, and the ultimate responsibility for their education lies with us. Not with the school, not with the teachers. With us. And it’s important, perhaps the most important responsibility that I will ever undertake as a father. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” and all that. So yeah, my sentiment is to control. And I will not be losing any sleep at night over your concerns on that matter. I answer to a much higher authority than you.

            In the end, I believe that for a nation constituted like ours to survive, a broadly educated and virtuous public is required. People need to understand our history, they need to understand that our system of government is intended to be limited, and they need to understand why that is so. They need to have the ability to govern themselves – they need to be virtuous. So yes, I do support the idea of “public education,” in that I believe that the state has an interest in promoting a broadly educated public. But I am not convinced that the public school system as it is currently constituted actually accomplishes that goal. And I am equally convinced that many people in our society have so equated “public education” in their minds with “The Public Schools” that they can’t imagine any other way of doing things, and will insist that those institutions be the mechanism for providing education, even if they have a long and indisputable record of mediocrity or even outright failure. In other words, the public schools are public education. Whether or not the public is actually educated is an afterthought.

            That’s not compassionate, that’s not enlightened, and it’s not going to help the once great City of Detroit get back on its feet. It’s not going to help the single mom in the inner city who desperately wants to get her child out of a failing, or even dangerous public school. Nor will it do anything to ease the burden of parents who struggle, scrimp and save to ensure that their children are educated in a manner that conforms with their most deeply held beliefs about God and man.

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            Marc,
            I have no problem with acknowledging that the population loss in Detroit contributes to the declining tax base. But why is it so difficult to acknowledge the relationship between corporate tax breaks and a declining tax base? Tax rates mean nothing when loopholes allow people to escape paying taxes. We are constantly told that the US has one of the highest tax rates for business and yet at the same time, not only do approximately 67% of Corporations doing business in the US pay no fed taxes, some get corporate welfare in varying forms. In other words, not only do some of these companies not pay taxes, they are paid by our government.

            As for funding for students, I did reverse one thing you wrote but the issue still stands that comparing with the average spent per student nationally does not tell the whole story. Alaska is third in the nation in spending per student at $16K. Why? NYC spend $19K per student. Why? Listing what schools pay per student alone does not tell the overhead and costs that each part of or city in the country has in running its schools. The conclusion from the article you cited is reached on incomplete information. And the record of mediocrity also provides an incomplete picture. From my experience teaching college freshmen and being a tax payer with children who have attended public schools, I have found that all of the stakeholders in public education are at fault from administrators to teachers to parents to kids. And there is the ever present overdependence on technology that has informally educated kids into believing that the answer any problem is found in a machine rather than the mind. And, having a contact who teaches in an inner city school in the south, he confirms what I have read about the relationship between the economic instability or lack of opportunity of a community with educational performance.

            I think that neither tolerating the status quo nor divesting from the public schools solves the problem for the majority of people. The solution is rather complex and involves creating economic hope as well as involving parents and students in the decision making process in running the public schools. In other words, the solution is found in both creating a positive change in community economics as well as democratizing the public schools.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            I have no problem with acknowledging that the population loss in Detroit contributes to the declining tax base. But why is it so difficult to acknowledge the relationship between corporate tax breaks and a declining tax base? Tax rates mean nothing when loopholes allow people to escape paying taxes. We are constantly told that the US has one of the highest tax rates for business and yet at the same time, not only do approximately 67% of Corporations doing business in the US pay no fed taxes, some get corporate welfare in varying forms. In other words, not only do some of these companies not pay taxes, they are paid by our government.

            So what you’re saying is we need to simplify the tax code, broaden the tax base and lower taxes across the board for businesses? Yes please.

            Other than that, I refer you to what I wrote before. I could restate it all but why bother.

            As for funding for students, I did reverse one thing you wrote but the issue still stands that comparing with the average spent per student nationally does not tell the whole story.

            But it is an important part of the story.

            Alaska is third in the nation in spending per student at $16K. Why? NYC spend $19K per student. Why? Listing what schools pay per student alone does not tell the overhead and costs that each part of or city in the country has in running its schools. The conclusion from the article you cited is reached on incomplete information. And the record of mediocrity also provides an incomplete picture.

            So the massive evidence of financial mismanagement in the DPS, and their long-term record of “mediocrity,” to use your term, should not weigh too heavily in our consideration of whether to continue propping up the system or to explore other avenues for providing education for the youth of Detroit?

            From my experience teaching college freshmen and being a tax payer with children who have attended public schools, I have found that all of the stakeholders in public education are at fault from administrators to teachers to parents to kids.

            Uh huh.

            And there is the ever present overdependence on technology that has informally educated kids into believing that the answer any problem is found in a machine rather than the mind.

            OK.

            And, having a contact who teaches in an inner city school in the south, he confirms what I have read about the relationship between the economic instability or lack of opportunity of a community with educational performance.

            Your point? And how does maintaining a state-run, secular school system address any of these problems?

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            Simplify is too general of a term. When we talk about simplifying the tax code, most of the complications comes from the wealthy trying to avoid paying taxes. And the question becomes this, will the wealthy allow the simplification of taxes if it means that they will have to pay more than they currently do.

            BTW, did you deliberately miss my point? My point on comparative spending on education is that it does not include regular and overhead costs for each city. In other words, one variable does not provide enough information. In addition, suppose a school district spends lower because the teachers or the staff or both are underpaid? Is that something we should embrace?

            The answers to your final questions are simply this, it isn’t the secularity or state running of the schools that cause the problems, the problems are caused by all of the stakeholders involved and those problems will be transferred to private and Christian school students, which they already are, with the added problem of even less money for the public schools. If the problem is stakeholder participation, how does relying more on non-public schools solve the problem when stakeholder participation remains the same?

          • Marc Vander Maas

            No, I did not miss your point. Did you miss mine? Perhaps you didn’t catch the fact that part of the overhead that DPS must pay for involves the more than $400 million in debt that they have saddled taxpayers with due to the complete botching of a massive capital improvement program. As for whether or not the staff is “underpaid,” I addressed that a number of comments back.

            The answers to your final questions are simply this, it isn’t the secularity or state running of the schools that cause the problems,

            The secularity of the public schools is a big problem for me. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t particularly care.

            the problems are caused by all of the stakeholders involved and those problems will be transferred to private and Christian school students, which they already are, with the added problem of even less money for the public schools.

            I was just going to start talking about how there’s a difference in how people treat things that they actually seek out and pay for, and things that people view as a “free service” from the state that they’re entitled to, and how in real terms my children’s school spends less money that the local public schools but provides a better product, but then I remembered who I’m arguing with and decided what’s the point.

            If the problem is stakeholder participation, how does relying more on non-public schools solve the problem when stakeholder participation remains the same?

            Again, I don’t think you’re capable of contemplating a world where education isn’t the province of the state and where schooling isn’t doled out in brick-and-mortar state schools, so… Whatever.

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            First, you didn’t really didn’t answer the question of underpaying staff and faculty. You brushed it off by saying that these people can find jobs elsewhere if they are not satisfied. Those who are economically privileged can say that. And for most of my teaching career, I was economically privileged. But I cannot say the same of many temp and part-time colleagues. In fact, there was a recent article just describing adjunct college faculty as becoming a part of the working poor. In addition, the state’s union negotiations last year, the union protected the temp and part-time’s teachers’ pay from being cut because the state tried to do that. But when you go to the nonpublic schools, is there a union that is protecting the teachers?

            The real issue of whether staff and teachers are being underpaid, you look at how they are living. You look at whether full-time teachers have to work other jobs just to support an average, unless it is below poverty lifestyle. And if they do, realize that the people teaching those kids are going to have shorter and less productive careers as well as the students will have less dedicated and more distracted teachers. That is how you tell if the teachers are underpaid. Your response here is a Marie Antoinette response. And that is what having privilege does to all of us. That is because privilege, whether it is because of race or economic class, is the assumption of advantages that others don’t share. So we assume that all others can do what we can easily when it is not the case for some.

            The outsourcing of jobs to other countries along with technological unemployment has decreased the number of jobs make the job market an employer’s market. In an employer’s market, employers have more power over wages and other compensation than employees do. Employers understand this. So suppose someone who is qualified and wants to teach is not satisfied with their compensation, where do they go when there are fewer and fewer other opportunities?

            See, the secularity of the schools is the problem. And so some want the state to divert what is needed for public schools, which you seem to want to destroy, for a religiously based education for their kids. And that means that taxpayers from other faiths are being bound to economically support other faiths. Many of my fellow Christians would cry that is what’s happening with the secularity of the public schools. Though the public schools should not teach religion, they SHOULD allow students to exercise their own faith and speak on their own faith when they have the chance to speak before the school. It is a fair criticism for Christians to complain that students are barred from sharing their faith when speaking before the school.

            But you are right about my thinking of the state being involved with brick and mortar schools. Why? The state, as representing the people, has a valid concern in ensuring the education of all children. Education contributes both to the welfare of society as well as the welfare of the individual. At the same time, the state needs to exercise discretion in standardization because the overuse of standardization limits liberty as well as the lessons we can learn from specific communities and indigenous people. This was part of a discussion in a book that Noam Chomsky contributed to. That though some standardization was important, what can be learned locally was often filtered out in the name of standardizaton.

            As for brick and mortar schools, yes, they are essential. They are essential socialization and for the exposure others in society. They are essential for personalization of education. The more we get away from brick and mortar schools, the more we dehumanize education. The more we rely on tech substitutes for brick and mortar schools, the less the teacher as a person can contribute to a child’s education as well as the more we associate the answer with a machine rather than a person. We already do that with the over reliance on calculators in math education. The kids I was teaching knew how to imitate but not think or understand.

            But brick and mortar is really not a complete description of what is going on school. It is in-person education that can only occur in an in-person teaching school. Not recognizing those lessons is shortsighted. That is not to say that there should be no online education. But up through obtaining one’s bachelors degree, most of the education should be in-person teaching. That is because there are invaluable lessons in the in-person school system that some fellow Christians would like to see die of attrition.

          • Marc Vander Maas

            First, you didn’t really didn’t answer the question of underpaying staff and faculty.

            Yup, I did. Teachers are adults. They can accept what is being offered or do something else that would bring them more money. No one forces anyone to become a teacher, and the people who decide to go into that profession know roughly what they can expect to earn.

            You brushed it off by saying that these people can find jobs elsewhere if they are not satisfied.

            If a simple factual statement is a brush-off, then yes, I guess.

            Those who are economically privileged can say that.

            Please define “economically privileged.”

            And for most of my teaching career, I was economically privileged. But I cannot say the same of many temp and part-time colleagues. In fact, there was a recent article just describing adjunct college faculty as becoming a part of the working poor.

            There’s a lot of that temp and part-time stuff going around these days. I have no earthly idea why that sort of thing happens.

            In addition, the state’s union negotiations last year, the union protected the temp and part-time’s teachers’ pay from being cut because the state tried to do that.

            Congratulations.

            But when you go to the nonpublic schools, is there a union that is protecting the teachers?

            I don’t know. Perhaps sometimes there is. Or perhaps those teachers are like the vast majority of workers who aren’t part of a union.

            The real issue of whether staff and teachers are being underpaid, you look at how they are living. You look at whether full-time teachers have to work other jobs just to support an average, unless it is below poverty lifestyle. And if they do, realize that the people teaching those kids are going to have shorter and less productive careers as well as the students will have less dedicated and more distracted teachers. That is how you tell if the teachers are underpaid.

            You do realize that lots of people work second jobs to make ends meet, right? That’s kind of a fact of life. If that represents some sort of cosmic injustice to you, well, OK. But it happens. I refer you to my father’s oft-repeated words that I heard often as I grew up: “life is seldom fair.” In fact, he may have said that to me on one of the many days that he went off to work the part-time job he took in order to be able to continue paying the tuition cost to send my sisters and I to the school that he and my mom chose for us (while, of course, simultaneously paying the full tax bill for the local public schools, something that was never acknowledged in any tangible way by the state).

            But even beyond that: AGAIN I remind you that teachers, to the best of my knowledge, are ADULTS, with the capacity to make informed choices about their employment. Generally, a person who goes into teaching knows what sort of job they’re getting in to, what the general rates of pay are, and what will be expected of them in terms of performance.

            Your response here is a Marie Antoinette response.

            No, it’s to treat people like adults who have the capability to plan and make choices and live their own life.

            And so some want the state to divert what is needed for public schools, which you seem to want to destroy, for a religiously based education for their kids. And that means that taxpayers from other faiths are being bound to economically support other faiths.

            Well, I wouldn’t have a problem with a complete overhaul of how we think about public education in this country, no. I’d prefer an approach more focused on actually having a broadly educated public that allows for parents to be primarily responsible for their own kids’ education, and an approach that recognizes and respects the freedom of religion and conscience that american citizens are supposed to enjoy, rather than having the state build and administer its own set of brick-and-mortar schools that it forces everyone into if they want to get the “free” public education.

            As for taxpayers being bound to economically support other faiths: Are your donations to your church tax deductible? Because that’s pretty much what I’d like to see for tuition.

            But you are right about my thinking of the state being involved with brick and mortar schools. Why? The state, as representing the people, has a valid concern in ensuring the education of all children. Education contributes both to the welfare of society as well as the welfare of the individual. At the same time, the state needs to exercise discretion in standardization because the overuse of standardization limits liberty as well as the lessons we can learn from specific communities and indigenous people. This was part of a discussion in a book that Noam Chomsky contributed to. That though some standardization was important, what can be learned locally was often filtered out in the name of standardizaton.

            A) I love how you cite Chomsky as if he’s somehow the be-all and end-all of the discussion. Just kind of dropped him in there as if that’s going to make me smack my forehead and admit I was wrong all along. Charming.

            B) I fail to see why any of this is an argument for having the state build, control, and run its own schools.

            As for brick and mortar schools, yes, they are essential…

            You do realize that I never said that brick and mortar schools weren’t important, right? Allow me to quote myself with emphasis:

            …I don’t think you’re capable of contemplating a world where education isn’t the province of the state and where schooling isn’t doled out in brick-and-mortar state schools…

            …and you’ve done nothing to convince me otherwise.

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            Marc,

            By saying they can leave is a Marie Antoinette answer and you know it. This is especially true when there are hundreds of applications for single job openings. People are now taking what they can get rather than being fairly compensated. Basically, you are defending the system and are part of an institution that indoctrinates people to maintain the status quo for the benefit of the wealthy.

            Think about it. What kind of future teachers will we produce when we underpay the current ones and are working toward a system of maintaining that under compensation?

            And economically privileged are like those who are racially privileged. That is they have advantages over other that they can take for granted. I was there. I was economically privileged with how I was being paid. I had economic advantages, part included employer supplied health insurance and enough money that I didn’t have to worry about a lot things that those who are paid much less have to worry about.

            Some of those things include taking 2nd and 3rd jobs. But then again, such people have far less time to spend with their families both now and in the future. But I guess that is called family values. See I was paid well enough where I only needed to work one job. That is an economic advantage. And such advantages we either take for granted or we minimize their significance when we have them and others do not.

            But who cares as long as you pay fewer taxes while expecting quality services. If you want to know why many in the left look down on those from the right it is because many of the concerns of the right are simply about the self with the exception of abortion. My gun rights! My taxes! And these rights are cared for regardless how what results others have to suffer through.

            The conservative concern for the self with the pairing of Christianity has caused many on the left to no only note the hypocrisy of many on the right, but to look scorn upon the Gospel. That is not to say that there are selfish concerns of those on the Left, we can point to the abortion issue again. But then again, they are not claiming to be Christian while they express more concern for others than many on the right. BTW, you can check out my article on Conservatism:

            http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2013/11/has-conservatism-become-cult.html

          • Marc Vander Maas

            By saying they can leave is a Marie Antoinette answer and you know it.

            No it isn’t. I disagree with you. Deal with it.

            And economically privileged are like those who are racially privileged. That is they have advantages over other that they can take for granted. I was there. I was economically privileged with how I was being paid. I had economic advantages, part included employer supplied health insurance and enough money that I didn’t have to worry about a lot things that those who are paid much less have to worry about.

            In all likelihood, I’m one of those people who are (at least at this point in my career) paid far less than you were. What I have suggested is that it would be very helpful for me in pursuing the goals I have for my children if the state would simply, for the time that I am paying tuition for my children’s education, lift from my shoulders the burden of paying the taxes that fund schools I, for reasons of conscience, don’t want to send my kids to. It seems to me that such a solution is perfectly reasonable: my children would receive a quality education, the state would still be supporting its interest in having a broadly educated public, and my right to the free exercise of my religion would be respected. It would, to use your words, give me something less to have to worry about. But then you turn around and suggest that my desire to educate my children in a manner consistent with my core beliefs about God, man, and the world is somehow evidence of selfishness? And here I thought it was evidence of being a a thinking parent who takes his responsibilities seriously.

            Some of those things include taking 2nd and 3rd jobs. But then again, such people have far less time to spend with their families both now and in the future. But I guess that is called family values.

            So, in the context of this discussion, let’s track the logic. There is really no question that an educated populace is vital to the smooth functioning of a republic. And so the state does have a legitimate interest in promoting education among the citizenry.

            Now, I think that rational people could agree that there are different ways that the state could pursue that goal. I also think that in a nation founded on the proposition that individual rights are paramount, it would be vital to ensure that however the state chooses to promote education at the primary and secondary level, the rights of parents must be of utmost concern. That should include a healthy respect for the religious freedom of the parents.

            In the end, the state settles on providing a “free” education—funded by taxation—at a secular school built and run by the state. In order to have access to the supposedly free education, parents must enroll their child in the state school. If the school’s performance is unsatisfactory, the parents may have the “choice” to send their child to a different state school, to be taught largely the same curriculum. If the parents decide—either based on religious conviction or on some other factor—that a private education would be better for their child, the state continues to operate as if nothing has changed.

            The parents, who are now shouldering the cost of private tuition, receive no relief from the taxes that fund the public schools, even though the public schools have been relieved of the responsibility of educating those children. As a result, many families like mine are find themselves in a position that requires them to seek additional work in order to live in a manner that comports with their conscience. Perhaps dad has to take a second job. Perhaps mom has to find a job instead of being a stay-at-home mom. You can adopt a mocking tone when you speak of “family values” all you want, but the only thing it reveals is your callousness toward those of us who simply desire to do what we believe to be right.

            I’m also going to point out something that should be obvious: the system as it currently stands doesn’t reduce opportunity for the wealthy. The wealthy can afford private education for their kids. The people who get screwed are the middle class and the poor: people who might choose a better school for their kids, but just can’t get over that financial hump, or people who are desperate to get out of bad schools but are told by “compassionate” leftists that we just need to keep supporting the status quo.

            But who cares as long as you pay fewer taxes while expecting quality services.

            Again, you demonstrate your ability to set up a fine straw man. RAAR! ALL I CARE ABOUT IS LOW TAXES!!! LET’S HUNT THE POOR FOR SPORT!!! I’M A BIG CONSERVATIVE MEANIE!!!

            If you want to know why many in the left look down on those from the right it is because many of the concerns of the right are simply about the self with the exception of abortion. My gun rights! My taxes! And these rights are cared for regardless how what results others have to suffer through.

            And if the left were at all accurate in its assessment of people on the right, I’d be concerned about how they feel. But I’ve seen so much speculative crap from the left over the years about how conservatives have such deep dark hangups over race or class or whatever(here’s a fine example), that I find it hard to take the critiques seriously at all. You come here all the time and spout off about how conservatives are this and that, and it rolls right off our backs because it’s all a cartoonish, simplistic misrepresentation of what we actually think.

            It’s funny, really. You opened this broadside with this nugget: “Basically, you are defending the system and are part of an institution that indoctrinates people to maintain the status quo for the benefit of the wealthy.” That’s especially rich in that you’ve spent a significant amount of time in this thread doing everything possible to defend a public school system that has virtually guaranteed that the poor and downtrodden of Detroit will remain that way for years to come. And the same is true in many other big cities. And you either don’t care, or you’re so wedded to the idea of “the public schools” that you’ve forgotten that the goal is an educated public. You are the status quo. You are the one who resists new ideas; you are the one who fears change.

            And so, we’re at an impasse. I’m sure you’ll have the last word. Enjoy it.

          • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

            Marc,
            We are at an impasse. You want the kind of education for kids that requires significant financial investment while you want the bill for that education to be at the level of a minimal education. It’s like you want a education commercial of a Miller lite beer. Why? Because, as a conservative, you are first concerned about yourself and your taxes and about minimizing the obligations you have to society. Conservatives want to believe that everybody is an island.

            It is great to be an island if you are doing well. That is because you have what you want and you can easily not see how the other islands are doing. And if that is what you want, go buy an affordable island, invite whom you want, and move there because even in an agricultural society, as the Amish have shown, all are interdependent.

            This Western individualism is a myth. And when merged with the Gospel brings shame to the Gospel. In America of old, if things didn’t go the way people wanted, they moved west. Can’t do that anymore though which is why I said you buy your island and move there.

            As for defending the status quo? If you are selective in what you read. Involvement is what challenges the status quo, not escapism. The status quo thrives when people either support what is going on or are passive, and you can’t get more passive than when you rely on escaping. But involvement that challenges is what gives hope that the status quo can change. And the problem with some conservatives regarding being involved is that they would have to be involved with those who are different. Being involved with those who are different is a reason why some conservatives want to believe that everybody lives on an island.

            BTW, have you figured out why the wealthy can beat the problems of the system? It is because they believe that they buy their islands. They’re escapists as much as some conservatives are but they can avoid it. And as long as we tolerate their escapism through passivity, that will continue. But the connecting point is through gov’t because we both have to deal with gov’t. And as long as we are passive and desire a laissez-faire relationship with gov’t, the status quo continues.

            The trouble is that conservative ideology is based on this idea that people in society exists as islands. It is based on an all-or-nothing thinking approach to individual rights. This kind of approach only sees individual rights and thus blinds itself so it won’t see our interdependency and that life is social. So I will finish my end of this conversation with a Martin Luther King quote on comparing capitalism and communism.

            What I am saying to you this morning is that communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor in the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis. It is found in a higher synthesis that combines the truths from both. Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.

            That is from Martin Luther King’s Where Do We Go From Here