Thursday, February 05, 2009

The End of Public Education in the South

This Sounds Familiar...

Pay attention, supporters of public education – the Georgia legislature is now looking at a bill that will end public education as an institution in the state. The bill will move Georgia to an all-voucher system. Importantly, what happens in the Georgia legislature usually trickles down to the rest of the South, so expect more of these coming our way very soon.

This will be especially true in Louisiana, as the poster child for public school dysfunction in the South is the non-accredited New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD). We have a governor that already has successful voucher legislation to hang his hat on, a sick-man teachers’ union that has little or no public support, and a system that’s main goal is to charter schools they can’t (won’t) fix.

The AJC Opinion page puts it this way:
Johnson bases his case on the contention that Georgia’s public schools are mediocre and impervious to improvement. However, the failings of Georgia schools are not inherent in public schools. They are a direct result of the state’s deep poverty, its historic indifference to quality education, especially for poor and minority children, and the repeated refusal of the very body that Johnson leads, the Legislature, to fund education adequately and stick with reforms long enough to register improvement.
(Emphasis added by me.)

True.

It sure would be a different story if the same folks who tell us how awesome school choice is weren’t the exact same people responsible for destroying the old system in the first damn place.


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4 comments:

Dante said...

Pat, what in the holy hell are you talking about? How does a plan that offers (but does not force you to use) vouchers and allows "parents to switch their children from one public school to another" (emphasis mine) in Georgia end public education in the South? For the second part of that proposal there would have to be by definition a public school system. And aren't there more states in "the South" than Georgia?

Besides, I see a lot of the inner workings of the public school system in Georgia. My wife has been both a teacher and a school administrator. My job is with a channel partner for software specifically targeted at K-12 institutions. They have plenty of money. They just crap it down the toilet on foolish purchases.

For example, the City of Atlanta school system paid MILLIONS to set up a disaster recovery system that can have them back up and online in in two hours from an offsite location if a natural disaster destroys their server building. Yeah, because classrooms are going to be up and running again two hours after an earthquake or tornado levels a building a few miles away from the schools and those schools are going to need to check schedules and mark attendance right then. Unfortunately, that sort of spending is far more often the norm than the exception.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Dante, I'm talking about the end of public education in the South.

While progressive actions by the state of Georgia take years to transmit across state lines, regressive ones will go much, much faster. If Georgia, who has the most robust public education system in the Deep South, abandons it with vouchers, it will not take long for other Southern states to follow suit.

And "switch their children from one public school to another" has been tried.

What you do by adding vouchers to that situation is that the "good" public schools will have so many applicants, they will have to turn other applicants away. That leads to the insidious nature of "selections." Schools will have to come up with application deadlines and entrance requirements and selection committes and waiting lists, and they will get to cherry pick their students. Students that don't get in will have to choose from other schools, from those simply "not-as-good" to the downright dysfunctional.

In the end, children will end up in schools based on how involved/educated/connected their parents are. The students with the most involved/educated/connected parents will end up at the best and most resource-rich schools, while students with the least involved/educated/connected parents will end up back at the lowest tier.

And I don't even want to imagine how some helicopter/overbearing parents and their brood will act under a voucher system. As if they weren't obnoxious enough just calling schools to insist on grade inflation and turning a blind eye to discipline matters, now they have an actual dollar amount to throw around. It was bad enough dealing with folks who thought they were entitled to bad behavior because "their taxes pay salaries."

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dante said...

"What you do by adding vouchers to that situation is that the "good" public schools will have so many applicants, they will have to turn other applicants away. That leads to the insidious nature of "selections." Schools will have to come up with application deadlines and entrance requirements and selection committes and waiting lists, and they will get to cherry pick their students. Students that don't get in will have to choose from other schools, from those simply "not-as-good" to the downright dysfunctional."

And that's perfectly ok for post-secondary education but not secondary education because?

"And I don't even want to imagine how some helicopter/overbearing parents and their brood will act under a voucher system. As if they weren't obnoxious enough just calling schools to insist on grade inflation and turning a blind eye to discipline matters, now they have an actual dollar amount to throw around."

And even halfway decent schools will be able to show helicopter parents the door if the they don't like what that school is doing. After all, they have plenty of other applicants to fill the student's seat as you argued earlier.