Via The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Bats Away Calls For Resignation After He Sought Special Treatment’

As I see things, by the time institutional rules are being written and enforced not by those with the most talent, making the most sacrifices, with their own skin in the game (the people whose habits, skills and resources you most need), but by secondary and tertiary actors pursuing their interests, there is already a lot of rot.

Public institutions and political parties, at any given time, are full of a lot second- and third-raters, and a lot of rot.  Even among talented people, meaning well and making serious sacrifices, you’ve got to get the incentives right to keep hope of competency and to stay ahead of the rot.

In a voluntary system, the people whose habits, skills and resources you most need often are often the first to flee from the institutions charged with public obligations if they have the resources to do so (it’s not merely a matter of race, but the pursuit of rational self-interest and basic human nature).

Cities are places of serious freedom, competition and inequality.

In inner city schools, particularly, the social problems are often so grave there is little hope, but the below may be a special indicator of rot:

Don’t forget:  It’s the kid ready to learn, eager to engage, with some care and concern for his/her natural gifts who most loses out amongst kids who are maladjusted, acting-up, potentially violent, and who place no internalized value on learning.

It doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t have some moral obligation to our fellow citizens, but I think it does mean that we all need the freedom to discuss the rules governing our interactions with our fellow citizens, and the kinds of arrangements into which we choose to enter. These are reciprocal relationships full of hopes, ambitions and dreams.

Wouldn’t you want as much?

May you let others be free to do as much.

As previously posted:

Full post here.

‘Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn’t need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor’s unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary.’

Diane Ravitch seemed to think that Michelle Rhee didn’t allow the people who need to ulimately take control of their own lives do so…which is why she was voted out.

Yet, the endemic poverty and political corruption in D.C. has led to an untenable situation, not able to be solved by those who hold up ideals of democracy broadly either.

This is still not a reason to get into bed with the status quo, and all the political, ideological and monied interests involved who want to keep things as they are and get their share.

Judge the men of systems, moralizers, rationalists, idealists and utopians not by intentions, but by outcomes:

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Walter Russell Mead has a series built upon the argument that the ‘blue’ progressive social model (building the Great Society) is defunct because America will have to adjust to new economic and global realities.   In the [then] current post, he focuse[d] on the part of the model that creates and directs government agencies to try and alleviate inner-city poverty and its problems for black folks.

‘This is one danger for the Black middle class and it’s an urgent and obvious one: the good jobs are going away — and they won’t be quite as good anymore.  The second danger is subtler but no less important.  In the past, government work served to integrate ethnic minorities and urban populations into society at large.  In the current atmosphere of sharpening debate over the role and cost of government, the ties of so much of the Black middle class to government employment may make it harder, not easier, for Blacks to take advantage of the opportunities that the emerging Red Age economy offers.’

A quote from John Locke, found here:

For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour’d with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.”

From Reason TV-The De Blasio Files: Teacher’s Unions Vs. Charter Schools

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Transcript at Reason here.

The politics are unfolding as predicted in New York City under De Blasio, between his further Left coalitions, activists, and labor unions against more moderate Democrats and liberal education-reformers.

From The NY Times:

“Giuliani was a prosecutor, Bloomberg was a C.E.O., and so far, Bill’s a political labor activist.”

Don’t forget the children.

Walter Russell Mead’s interesting piece-Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I:

‘Generally, political inertia and public worker unions combined to keep government in the Blue Age even as the rest of the economy moved on.  Today, the experiences and the expectations of people in the private sector and people in the public sector are quite different.  There are many results, including taxpayer revolts against public sector benefits and pay, but from an urban policy standpoint the key one is this: the government job machine is no longer an escalator to the middle class.  In fact, the dependence of the Black middle class on government work is going to be one of the chief threats to the health of the Black middle class as we’ve known it’

Also On This Site:Andrew Delbanco At The NY Times Review Of Books: ‘The Two Faces Of American Education’ Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t connect with the people most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Andrew Delbanco At The NY Times Review Of Books: ‘The Two Faces Of American Education’

Full piece here.

Delbanco sets up a dichotomy between long-time education reformer Diane Ravitch, who’s drifting into a rather closed defense of public-schooling as is, and Michelle Rhee, who led the charge against the status quo in Washington D.C. schools and ran into a lot of problems:

‘Perhaps a starting point would be to acknowledge, as Ravitch does, that the golden age of master teachers and model children never existed, and, as Rhee insists, that the bureaucracy of our schools is wary of change. One thing that certainly won’t help our children is any ideology convinced of its exclusive possession of the truth.’

Worth a read.

Readers of this blog will know I tend to favor non-union, non-collectivist reform of public schooling, despite the fact that charter schools are clearly no magic bullet.

I reserve the right to view even the most dedicated school-reformers, pragmatist-inspired defenders of the common good, and crusaders for the public interest with a skeptical eye, while simultaneously recognizing that they are the ones trying to tackle many of the fundamental problems our society faces in terms of education and opportunity.

I don’t believe education fits under Milton Friedman’s intellectual net, but I like seeing how he comes at the problems of scarcity of resources, students failed by the system, and entrenched educators.  As teachers will tell you, many parents simply aren’t involved, and abdicate their responsibilities to their children, the schools, and everyone else…money can be a good way to keep people accountable who run the system, but the rational incentive model of money and the freedom to choose with kids leaves a lot to be desired:

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Also On This Site:  Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’

Full post here.

‘Rhee believed that mayoral control gave her the power to work her will and to ignore dissenters or brush them off as defenders of the status quo. Mayoral control bred arrogance and indifference to dialogue. She didn’t need to listen to anyone because she had the mayor’s unquestioning support. Mayoral control made democratic engagement with parents and teachers unnecessary.’

Ravitch seems to think that Rhee didn’t allow the people who need to ulimately take control of their own lives do so…which is why she was voted out.

Yet, the endemic poverty and political corruption in D.C. has led to an untenable situation, not able to be solved by those who hold up ideals of democracy broadly either.

This is still not a reason to get into bed with the status quo, and all the political, ideological and monied interests involved who want to keep things as they are and get their share.

Also On This Site:  From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

From Sultan Knish: ‘Universal Education Or Universal Competence’

Full piece here.

One of the main targets here is the political Left in polemical fashion, and some folks on the Left deserve criticism as much as anyone:

‘The more you universalize education, the lower the value of that education becomes. When the goal of education is not to teach, but to graduate, then the educational system becomes a cattle run which exists only to move students through the system and then out the door through classroom promotion. The High School education of today is inferior to the Elementary School education of yesterday and the four year college graduate of today couldn’t even begin to match wits with a high school graduate from 1946.’

Diminishing returns.  Undoubtedly, the ground has shifted beneath our feet, and our educational institutions have not changed to keep pace.  This problem belongs to all of us.  Perhaps our educational system will be increasingly fertile ground for the culture wars. Even the Left has recently been criticizing the very meritocracy they’ve helped to create.

There are many political, monied, and ideological interests who have a big stake in resisting any change in our schools.  If and when necessary changes are suggested, they will naturally fight for their own self-interest, often under universalist ideals through political means (especially in our cities…a piece of the pie they are sure they have been denied).  This can end up harming the people these institutions are meant to serve.

‘Above all else, a society of competent men and women is self-ruled. Competence is the core of independence while standardized education is the essence of collectivism. Once you know how to do something, you are less likely to be awed by men and women who only know how to rule over others.’

All standardization is not necessarily harmful, but it can be increasingly harmful in the current context, under many current conditions that have led to a top-down, politicized educational-industrial complex.   It is incredibly wasteful and inefficient.

There is a spirit of egalitarianism in America that needs to be protected from the excessive and collectivist egalitarians, the teacher’s unions and many an educrat, the politicians and a corrupt system of patronage in our cities.   Education naturally attracts a lot of ‘universalists’.

Millions of young people are passing through lower and higher ed shielded from much genuine criticism and failure, and academic rigor that both rewards hard work and intellectual challenge, and is appropriately competitive.  They are receiving inflated grades and playing the system for what they can.  The rest of us are paying for it in one way or another.

Did lower or higher ed fail you?  Your children?  If so, how?

Addition:  Megan McArdle has a piece here on the value of college.  It’s still probably worth it for the average student, and especially for the bright, motivated student who is aware of what he/she’s paying for, and with a stake in his/her own costs and future in the labor market.  Otherwise, there’s a large psychological and public buy-in and many individuals making many bad decisions.  A bubble?

uploaded by mattbucher

Related On This Site:  Louis Menand At The New Yorker: ‘Live And Learn: Why We Have College’

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Via Instapundit: Jerry Bowyer At Forbes: ‘A College Bubble So Big Even The New York Times And 60 Minutes Can See It…Sort Of’

A deeper look at what education “ought” to be…mostly like it is now: A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

The libertarian angle, getting smart, ambitious people off of the degree treadmill:  From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’ I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking
Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.

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