November 28, 2006
A Great Education, For $6K Per Annum

Steve Pulkkinen of the Seattle Public Schools teachers union writes in the Seattle Times today that the system's pressing need is more state money, to bring per-pupil annual spending from $10K to $15K or $20K. Our family already pays Seattle property taxes for lousy public schools to which we can't in good conscience send our two children. But we choose to stay in Seattle for a variety of reasons (more below), and also to pay less than $6K per student annually for an outstanding K-8, non-denominational private school. It provides art, music and drama in addition to rigorous instruction in core subjects; the staff is dedicated and of long tenure; the student body is growing more ethnically diverse every year; and expulsions due to poor student behavior are almost totally unheard of, because a basic code of conduct is strictly enforced, with love. No wonder the the state teachers union and its local affiliates are afraid of public charter schools and vouchers. The competition would nearly kill Seattle Public Schools before it forced huge changes for the better. All the rest is re-arranging deck chairs on The Titanic, or perhaps more accurately these days, a Claymation reality show.

As for curious Sound Politics readers who either loathe Seattle or lament its passage into political nuttery, and who thus wonder why in the world anyone would choose to live there today, here's our family's balance sheet. The pros for us are a great neighborhood and neighbors, good libraries (with conservative non-fiction, too!), distinct and attractive parks, excellent access to Puget Sound, enticing urban neighborhood business districts, and - face it - a wonderfully target-rich environment. The ability to efficiently use public transit can also be a plus. The cons include too few police, plus too many intolerant liberal hypocrites; egregious racial posturing (especially by intolerant white liberal hypocrites); lousy bagels; and too few Italians.

What's fairly tragic about the descent of the Seattle Public Schools into dysfunctionality is that uniformly rigorous public schools would be the real clincher for more badly-needed families and children, in a city that despite real flaws, still has so much to offer.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at November 28, 2006 11:30 AM | Email This
Comments
1. What do you expect from a liberal union goon? It's not that the school system is failing the students, everything would be rosy if we just spent more money doing what we're already doing.

How about some new ideas, instead of more of more of the same?

Posted by: Obi-Wan on November 28, 2006 11:29 AM
2. Matt says:

"No wonder the the state teachers union and its local affiliates are afraid of public charter schools and vouchers."

The most recent attempt to use our tax money to fund charter schools failed with SIXTY PERCENT of voters statewide turning thumbs down on charter schools.

That's a whole lot of "afraid people," Matt, sixty percent of the state's voters.

Posted by: ivan on November 28, 2006 11:37 AM
3. I think I understand what Pulkkinen is saying: If I buy a Yugo for $100 I’m buying a car that is a piece of junk. But If I spend $1,000 for the same exact car it won’t be a piece of junk.

Pulkkinen is an excellent example of the problem with Seattle schools.

Posted by: Tyler Durden on November 28, 2006 11:39 AM
4. there used to be bumper stickers that said "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance" every time I saw one I thought to myself If you think education is expensive you should see what the taxpayers here in washington are paying for indoctrination.

Posted by: JDH on November 28, 2006 11:40 AM
5. Seattle has so much to offer…

Like piles of bum sh_t on the city sidewalks, out of control auto theft, undermanned and hobbled police department, failing schools, decaying roads and infrastructure, rediculous parking and housing costs, rude, self-rightious people, no trees…

Seattle is a profile of liberal failure. I've given up on this city. I've given up on the politics of this region - it will never change.

Seattle can go to Hello!

Posted by: Jeffro on November 28, 2006 12:00 PM
6. You've just proved the point, ivan. If 60% of the voters in Washington State are ignorant (or stupid) enough to vote against charter schools, we are in desperate need of education reform.

Posted by: Saltherring on November 28, 2006 12:10 PM
7. But... but... it's metronatural...

Posted by: TB on November 28, 2006 12:10 PM
8. A few years ago a teacher in the Shoreline district sat down with the directory of personnel in the district and counted up the number of certified teachers in the district. He then took the number of students in the district and divided it by the number of certified teachers the result was one teacher for each 18 students. He then added in the teaching assistants and found that there was one instructional person for each 12 students which is below even what the union says is ideal. So where is the problem.

It turns out that if you eliminated the teachers who were in administrative roles or other non classroom duties the ratio went to 1 to 28. So why are there so many teachers in non teaching roles? Because we as parents have demanded that the schools teach sex education, aids awarness, diversity, life skills, english as a second language. We have demanded the schools nanny our kids and protect them from every potenital evil. Why have we done than?

We have done that because society has changed its evaluation of what is the model of succesful family from a married couple with one breadwinner and one at home parent to two higly motivated and highly financially well compensated people who often have childern as an after thought.

Why have we done that? Because we have shorterned our focus from the future of our nation and world to what we can achieve during out life time, Becuase we have changed our focus from the idea that there are things bigger than ourselves worth sacrificing for to a race for immediacy.

There is enough blame to go around in the mess that is public education but the unions and the other jerks running the system have just taken the power they were willingly given and run with it. When you run a society based on the concept of sovereign poeple being able to devolve power to government every time you ask government to do something you must give away freedom.

Money is not the answer, if it was the school systems of New York City, Detroit, and Washington DC would be turning out an unbroken stream of Nobel Prize winners.

At this point the whole system needs to be rethought from the bottom up, what is our role as parents and what is our responsiblity to our childern, do we really need to have schools teach things we should be inculcating to our off spring? Most importantly are we willing as parents and citizens to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve the goals of superior education?

Posted by: dennis on November 28, 2006 12:12 PM
9. Yeah ivan - a lot of those "afraid people" were listening to the distortions put out by the union hacks and their supporters about how being pro-choice is bad - atleast in everything but abortion.

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 28, 2006 12:13 PM
10. dennis says:

Why have we done that? Because we have shorterned our focus from the future of our nation and world to what we can achieve during our life time, Because we have changed our focus from the idea that there are things bigger than ourselves worth sacrificing for to a race for immediacy.

Outstanding! You have captured the essence of conservative thought with this very brief paragraph. (please forgive my correction of typos... the words were so good I was compelled to spell them properly!)

Posted by: huckleberry on November 28, 2006 12:23 PM
11. Matt, your kids will learn so much more than they would have in the Sea Public Schools. Good for you for sending them to private school. I doubt too many of the leaders at all levels of govt. in seattle are sending their precious kids to public school.

What the education bureaucrats and school board in Seattle don't realize, Ivan, is that they ARE funding ignorance right now, in the schools. Else why are there so many drop-outs and kids who don't know much except how to say the word "diversity" when they graduate? They don't know history. They don't write well. They can't do math. But they know how to say "diversity." Well thank goodness for that?

Posted by: Misty on November 28, 2006 12:34 PM
12. Huck, No apology necessary I was one of those dummies that John Kerry said got stuck in a war zone in my case Vietnam.

Posted by: dennis on November 28, 2006 12:35 PM
13. I don't know about the Seattle Public Schools, but at ours when you break down the numbers, Special Needs students account for 15% of the expenditures and the 9-12 grade classes require about 15% more in expenditures. Just in those two categories, that $10,000 you refer to could be dropped to $7,000. I guess that would assume that the private school Matt refers to doesn't accept Special Education students and doesn't educate 9-12 year students.

I won't even start to wonder if there are hidden costs he doesn't consider, like if that tuition covers depreciation of the buildings or donations or grants that the school receives to help offset the total cost of education of those students. That $10,000 number being bantered about covers all of that.

Posted by: Doug on November 28, 2006 12:42 PM
14. I am more interested in what may be going on behind the scenes in preparation for the King County Republican Post election lost political realignment meeting that will be going on next Saturday in Mercer Island.

What will be up for election?

Posted by: Steve on November 28, 2006 12:43 PM
15. Dennis,

Good comments (and thanks for your service!) but I do take issue with one point that you made. You state that we as parents have demanded that schools teach sex ed, AIDS awareness, life skills, ESL, etc. I actually think most parents would like their kids to learn to read and write and do real world math...unfortunately the schools are too busy pushing the aforementioned crap to be bothered with the three Rs. Sadly, the liberal do-gooders consider diversity to be more important than employability - hence the mess we're in now. No amount of money will ever be enough until we change the system from the top down and bring in competition and choice and stop making excuses for lousy programs led by spineless bureaucrats and politicians who quietly send their own kids to private schools!

Posted by: suzihomemaker on November 28, 2006 12:47 PM
16. suzihomemaker:

Amen! I think few parents consider the do-gooder policies to be of value. Yet I wonder how many of those same parents voted for WEA-sponsored Dimocrat legislators....?

Posted by: Saltherring on November 28, 2006 12:58 PM
17. Ole @ 6:

You are welcome to your value judgment. I merely state the fact.

Posted by: ivan on November 28, 2006 01:08 PM
18. 'Ivan' said: 'The most recent attempt to use our tax money to fund charter schools failed with SIXTY PERCENT of voters statewide turning thumbs down on charter schools. That's a whole lot of "afraid people," Matt, sixty percent of the state's voters."

Sixty percent of registered voters? I think not. It was probably the percent of votes in the election.

Regardless, it shows clearly what can be accomplished by the awesome power of fear-mongering ads funded by the coerced union dues of thousands of teachers whose opinions were overridden by the union leadership.

Posted by: Hank Bradley on November 28, 2006 01:15 PM
19. Misty @ 11:

Whereas my daughter is a straight-A student at a Seattle School District high school, and whereas her teachers are drilling her mercilessly in all the "basics," I'd have to conclude that at least in my case, the tax money is being spent well.

You see, whether you are rich or poor, black, yellow, brown, or white, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, education of our children is OUR job and OUR responsibility. What the schools do is icing on the cake.

But when it comes to politics, most people in this state want PUBLIC education better funded, and the more shrilly you right-wingers rail against better-funded PUBLIC education, the worse it is likely to get for you.

Charter schools are a LOSER. Defunding public education is a LOSER (Initiative 920, anyone?). And attacking teachers is a LOSER.

Attacking education bureaucracies and their overstaffed, overpaid, underproductive administrators is where we can find common ground, and it is where we are more likely to achieve real, meaningful reform in public education.

Posted by: ivan on November 28, 2006 01:21 PM
20. Jeffro--you expressed my thoughts exactly.
this is a symptom of bigger attitudes here.

i think that many teachers fear that they would NEVER be hired nor stay long at a charter or voucher-run school if held to performance standards.

understandably, the union protection is nice, but any teacher with half a conscience, as many dedicated teachers have, knows that the market is cruel to the mediocre & proving one's self (as we do in private industry) is a constant, uncomfortable, insecure battle.

the bureaucrats and extra staffers fear a lean business too. why are they so crucial to education?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on November 28, 2006 01:22 PM
21. Ivan

Since you're more of an expert on education then you are on calorie control tell us what the "proper" amount of per student funding is in order to achieve a satisfactory education. Put a dollar figure on it.

Posted by: swassociates on November 28, 2006 01:24 PM
22. As far as education spending, I would encourage you to watch the Evergreen Freedom Foundation video showing the reactions of average folks and big wigs on the amount of money spent in public education.

Posted by: SVC Alumnus on November 28, 2006 01:27 PM
23. I'm not going to argue that the per-student spending should be doubled for the Seattle public schools, but you can't compare what it costs a private school to educate a student vs. what it costs public school to educate one. Special ed is a huge consumer of resources, as are high school vocational classes, etc. If I bring my severely handicapped child to a private school, they will tell me they can't educate my child. If I bring that same child to a public school, he'll be put into a small class with specialized equipment, aides, teachers, etc.

And what public schools neglect reading to teach AIDS awareness? My kids are in public schools and AIDS education took one or two periods of health during fifth grade, an entirely appropriate amount IMO.

Republicans aren't going to regain power in this state if public schools are seen as a wholly corrupt institution that should be abandoned.

Posted by: ThreeDimen on November 28, 2006 01:31 PM
24. Komrade ivan would have us believe that the vote against charter schools was 60%. As usual, he doesn't provide the information required to evaluate his statement.

The vote occurred in the 2004 General election.

It was actually 58.3% against
http://vote.wa.gov/Elections/Results/Measures.aspx?e=a3501711-c318-45f4-8a03-1d926ac839b7

There were 2.695 million total votes, which amounted to only 63.9% of the registered voters
http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/voter_participation.aspx

There were 3.508 million registered voters, so the number of registered voters who didn't vote on the measure (0.805 million) was almost double the margin (0.449 million votes).

Given this larger context, I doubt that the charter school issue is as settled as Komrade ivan would like to have us believe.

As long as Washington public schools continue to fail so miserably at educating our children, there will likely be further charter school measures on the ballot.

Perhaps in another two years, when the Dems complete their second consecutive legislative session with a supermajority in the Legislature, and a Dem in the governor's office, and once again fail to fix the problem?

Posted by: ewaggin on November 28, 2006 01:32 PM
25. I do have a question though in the debate between public and private schools: Aren't all students required - public and private - required to take the WASL? And if not, why?

I'm all for making the WASL a requirement to graduate from a certified Washington State school.

Posted by: SVC Alumnus on November 28, 2006 01:36 PM
26. Jimmie - you're so right.

The liberal/union game of "Justify Your Existance" is played continuously by these jacka$$es. They've created these cancerous entities that are completely self-perpetuating and if left unexcised, will completely destroy the host (tax payers).

Just as we've seen the complete and utter decay of a once great, medium sized, quaint city (Seattle), we'll see Western Washington start to crumble as well.

I know, we're responsible as voters to change this, but with no faith in our elections, I have completely given up on politics in this area. I liken a conservative in this area as the guy that keeps pounding himself on the head with a hammer. When ask why he's doing this he replies, "because it feels so good when I stop."

You folks can keep up the good fight, but I'm done with all these corrupt bastards.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 28, 2006 01:45 PM
27. ewaggin @ 24:

Please, please, please write another initiative to put charter schools on the ballot again. Nothing would make me happier than to see you try it.

Posted by: ivan on November 28, 2006 01:51 PM
28. Suze and others,

When the late John Sanford was superintendant of Seattle Schools he told parents that if their kids acted up he would expell them and the parents all said great do it I expect you to. When he actually starting doing it and sent the kids home most found no one there and when the parents found out that expelled meant leaving the school campus they rebelled and wanted a special program in the school for kids who were expelled but had no parents at home for them to report to. Most of the parents were of course working.

We parents are often the victims of cognitive dissonance about education we say we will teach them all the other stuff but do we? I don't know about anyone else's kids but mine had AIDs education every year from 5th grade on. While a couple of periods doesn't sound like much time if you figure that kids only are at school 7 hours a day for 189 days (state requirement) and you add up the hour a year for AIDS, and hour for diversity training, and hour for life skills, etc it mounts up fast, plus it is a diversion of resources. It takes a good teacher about 3 hours of prep time for each hour of class. Run those numbers.

The sad fact is that most parents faced with having to reduce their lifestyle to dedicate more time to their childern's education would say yes until they have to do it. When the rubber hits the road they will not give up the big house, the two Lexus's the frequent exotic vacations, and the designer clothes. In far to many households kids are throphies not gifts from God to be nutured and cared for.

Posted by: dennis on November 28, 2006 01:55 PM
29. Jeffro, respectfully: "Decisions are made by those who SHOW UP."

Either we show up to play ball like a Seattle Seahawk or these (put most poignant rival here - for me, that would be the Rams) are going to keep kicking our butts.

Posted by: SVC Alumnus on November 28, 2006 01:56 PM
30. isn't it funny that Wenatchee cost is under 6000 per student per year and they have a student to teacher ratio of 18 to 1

Posted by: Jimbo on November 28, 2006 02:09 PM
31. Matt,

Good post. I wish I lived in Seattle for only one reason, and that is better access to schools like the one where you send your kids. Down here in Tacoma there are far fewer choices. We have a few Montessori schools, Annie Wright and Charles Wright for big $$$$, and Private Religious schools.

I've personally toured and attended classes in both local public elementary schools and in private schools. There is no comparison. The public schools had to maintain a much wider tolerance band in both incoming academic preparation and in discipline and behavior. In the private schools I toured there is is a much stricter curriculum. The rooms are much neater, the parental involvement greater, and the freedom to teach what works also greater. And there is zero tolerance for failure, slackers, discipline issues, etc.

For example: In Tacoma, the decision was made this year, mercifully, to finally abandon New Math, called Investigations, in favor of a more traditional math program called Saxon math. The district has a certain phase in period and is tolerant with the few (ignorant) teachers that still have an affinity to Investigations math. The district is also encouraging teachers to mix and match and do whatever they "feel" works. By contrast, in the private schools, the folly of New Math was never even allowed in the first place. Math is taught with the same rigor that it always has been. There is an emphasis on the core hierarchy of math in that each skill must be mastered to move to the next level. Students leaving our local private religious school enter into advanced math classes in high school. They are quite well prepared.

The fact that there has ever even been a disruption or a discussion on how to teach a skill as objective as math is why so many distrust the WA Public Schools. And the fact that it takes years of failure and a very confident local administrator to switch back to traditional math is also unacceptable. How long did the mathematical emperor where no clothes before folks like Charlie Milligan and Sondra Bright finally stood up and challenged the WEA? Look for Tacoma Schools to soon be leading the state in WASL scores, because they will now finally and again, have a decent mathematical curriculum.

This is why private school market driven schools are superior. In a competitive world, we cannot afford decade long diversions into left-leaning bureaucratically embraced experimental curriculums. We need a strict enforcement of rigorous fundamental academic principals. Principals that have been well-known for decades. And we need those curriculums enforced in a disciplined and involved environment, that caters specifically to hierarchical learning and student inspiration, with only the best teachers.

As long as we have the WEA, Unions, an inefficient number of administrators per school, and a system that rewards teachers more for seniority and less for demonstrable and widely praised skill, we will continue to see a decline in WA schools.

And the only way we will ever create a truly competitive and well compensated set of teachers is to make education private. Because only in a private system will there be enough economic efficiency to make sure that a substantial portion of revenue goes to a school's greatest asset, which is a talented set of teachers who are compensated to the point that they remain in education.

We've seen the rise of just such a talented, non-union professional and well-paid class of workers in the private technology sector. There's no reason we can't use the same sound business practices to bring this to education.


Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2006 02:21 PM
32. The funny thing is that we gave up our unique American education system ever since 1957 in favor of the ones the Soviets had. Now that we are experiencing a Chernobyl meltdown in our public schools, are we going to go back to our American system or keep trying to resuscitate the Soviet system? It's really that simple.

My Armenian friend still mocks our state and country because unlike the USSR, we actually *practice* communism here. There, communism was a joke you had to tell each other in daylight while you practiced capitalism.

One of these days the people of this state will "get" it. Freedom works because it is the only moral system. Socialism and communism are merely tyranny spelt with different letters.

Posted by: Jonathan Gardner on November 28, 2006 02:22 PM
33. SVC-

I agree completely. Showed up last two general elections, had to fill out provisional ballots. Why? Because, mysteriously, my registration keeps getting perged from the voter roles. I've been a registered Washington voter since I turned eighteen. I methodically change my registration address everytime I move. I've lived in GOP strongholds for tha last two elections so I suspect that somebody is targeting these areas and perging voters.

Paranoid, sure I am. But I'm pretty sure we have the wrong person living in the governer's mansion. We have a media that promotes the liberal agenda, unions that do the same and also use dues collecteed by their members to help promote their liberal agenda.

I say we boycott our elections, let the liberal wussies drive our state further into the ground and when they all vacate the steaming pile they left, we come in and make things right. Until then, I'm afraid there's little hope.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 28, 2006 02:31 PM
34. I am sure that the adjusted cost of the private school that Matt sends his children too is at least as much as the comparable cost of the Seattle School District for K-8 students. If you get rid of special education, there goes about 15% of the budget. And K-8 is at least 15% to 20% cheaper than high school.

How about all the grants that are made to private schools by wealthy donors? Add in the extra funds that parents usually contribute to in private schools, in addition to tuition. And don't forget that parents (and supporters) in private schools tend to volunteer a lot more time than those in public schools.

Add everything up, and you tend to have a lot more effective financial resources per student in private schools than in public schools.

In addition, there is the selectivity bias. You aren't going to have special education students in private schools. And parents who send their children to private schools will be more involved in their children's education. Not to mention that parents of better performing children will be more likely to place their children in private schools, than parents of worse performing children.

Posted by: Richard Pope on November 28, 2006 02:50 PM
35. Mr. Pope,

You wrote; How about all the grants that are made to private schools by wealthy donors? Add in the extra funds that parents usually contribute to in private schools, in addition to tuition. And don't forget that parents (and supporters) in private schools tend to volunteer a lot more time than those in public schools.

Sounds like a good model for our public schools to pattern themselves.

I guess poorer folks care less for their kids and also have a diminished capacity for volunteerism. Is that what you're saying? Having sent my child to a private school for her first three years, they require a certain amount of volunteerism and/or extra financial compensation.

I still require this same daughter who attends the advanced programs at a public high school to participate in numerous volunteer programs (her choice, subject to parent approval).

Our public schools should adopt many of these programs. Although I'm sure the union would fight anything that encroaches on their stronghold tooth and nail.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 28, 2006 03:10 PM
36. Ivan: Glad your kid is doing okay. But even out here in Lk WA district, I was not impressed with what I saw for five years in public schools. 4th graders didn't even know what a vowel was!! Pathetic! Again---what of the 30% drop-out rates we're hearing about? why are too many kids not learning the basics? How come they can't write and do math? Why is animal behavior tolerated in public schools? Yah, we saw it. The schools do almost nothing about it. You couldn't pay me to send a kid there anymore, but we still have to pay for all the pathetic-ness going on. It's a crock.

Posted by: Misty on November 28, 2006 03:17 PM
37. The sole source education is so bad Defacto Black Markets pop up in the form of private schools. What about choice for all??

Now why in a supposedly socialist nation are there vouchers - choice. Yes folks 100 miles north in CANADA you can cruise into any BC school public or private and the cash follows the kid. My private school friends report almost rabid desperation of some parents to wedge their kids into the private school after the strike last year but the spots were full. But it was only a few not the entire populace wanted in so the wildcat strikers shoved their picket signs in everyone's faces and they took it. So down here the WEA could just keep sticking it to those prideful enough to believe in the worldview death culture education of public schools and you know what they'd soon get the class sizes they want and then they'd finally have to produce something with a positive result or find more excuses-All the best kids went to the private schools.

It would be refreshing for once a union guy not breathe so much death over his flock. We are under funded over worked can't do it rather than say well we'll figure out a way to get it done it is we are done unless you give us more money. I see what private schools do down here with 20% of the funding....my thinking every WEA member that has ever held a card be sued for fraud and conspiracy for what they have done with the money - nothing!! Kids are ignorant angry victims.

I still can't believe the crap that was fed into me in high school - I accidentally fought back in the school paper and was turned into a pawn between the evil teachers and the good teachers. Did not even know it until one evil teacher went over the deep end and in an open staff meeting demanded I be kicked out of the school because I could not be educated and was disruptive based on the editorial I wrote over supporting our veterans!!!! One good teacher later told me of to watch my back. I could not believe it was true after all this was just high school sure they were whacked teachers but it was free and open discourse right?? Wrong!!! That evil Mrs. T never let up but never succeeded. What she never counted on were the two good teachers (thks Mr. L and Ms. B) informing me of her every move. I knew who her spies were; she enlisted brown shirt students (Right T, et. al.). I played her like a fiddle with more editorials and getting the most patriotic student in the yearbook. She lost and lost badly I quickly dropped her must take senior class in world civilization realizing now I missed world indoctrination. BTW Danny Z and Mrs. F (administrators) go to hello for your roles in that too (they almost bought the lie and had trumped up charges ready to go). Ya wonder why I was called Col. Hogan back then even.

So Ivan and you public school lovers you pay the price first -you wear the burka first, you get your cars robbed first, you get the worst doctors, the firefighters that can't lift a ladder due to diversity hiring goals, the reeducation camps!! If only there were justice like this!!!

The Fix and only fix introduce competition that way psychotic evil teachers will have to educate in the basics and can't get away with teaching all the death and political agendas of islamofacism, communism, socialism and death!!!

To the rabid sole source educationalistas after all why would you want to educate my kids? They are disruptive and can't be educated right???? Let my money go!

Posted by: Col. Hogan on November 28, 2006 03:32 PM
38. Misty @ 36:

You can't answer the question "why can't the schools do anything about it" until you answer the question "are the parents doing anything about it?"

Teachers and principals can't be parents. When I was growing up, I knew that if I caused trouble at school, my a-- was grass at home. and every time I pushed the envelope, my parents made me wish I hadn't.

My daughter excels in school because her mother and I have demanded that she do so and provided her with everything we can to ensure that she does. So far so good.

Not all parents do that. Some are not in a position to do it, some don't know what to do, and some are just rotten parents.

Yes, there are rotten schools, and there are rotten teachers. But it starts in the home, and do not forget it.

Of course, Stefan and Matt continue to push the Evergreen Fraudulent Foundation line that all of society's ills stem from public education and teacher unions. Thank goodness fewer and fewer Washington voters are buying it. Nobody wants Jeff Boly's Republic of Gilead here.

Jeffro @ 35:

Every school my daughter has attended (2 elementaries, a middle school, and now high school, all public) have had abnormally high levels of parent volunteers and parent involvement.

Good parents, no matter what their income level or socioeconomic status, care enough about their children to want to make a difference.

Posted by: ivan on November 28, 2006 03:43 PM
39. 33. Posted by: Jeffro on November 28, 2006 02:31 PM

First, my sympathies at your voting troubles. I have never had to vote provisional, but I'm in Skagit County where instead the ballot is provisional as in missing data.

Second, I know the feeling of, 'sit back and wait for the catastrophe to destroy the establishment'. But sometimes we can manipulate history to make the catastrophe happen in a way we like. I refer you to my alma mater Skagit Valley College where at one time we were governed by a majority of trustees not committed to following the Open Public Meetings Act and to top that went on retreats to ritzy restaurants. After a devastating rebuttal in the form of a letter to the editor to the college president's Skagit Valley Herald op-ed, the retreats at ritzy restaurants stopped.

Yes, the fight will be hard. But we can use the direct democratic process, the opinion pages of the old media and the alternative media - especially the blogs to enable & become the change we seek. Have hope. We still have Dino Rossi and soon Forward Washington will ride to our rescue as the Gregoire administration gets into a tailspin...

Posted by: SVC Alumnus on November 28, 2006 03:50 PM
40. The funny thing is that we gave up our unique American education system ever since 1957

Amen. That's when American education "jumped the shark." As a public school boomer I can still recall that we went from the three R's to upper-math and lots of science overnight. We started using Jr. High books and curriculum in the sixth grade. Seventh grade math jumped to eighth and so on. Someone had the idea this would produce brains to catch-up to and surpass the Sputnik program.

My friends in parochial school remained status quo. Same old three R's and same old books. More of my friends in those schools went on to careers in medicine, law and the like than friends in my own schools. Did those kids in uniforms prosper from more discipline? Perhaps. Were their parents more involved in their educations? Again perhaps. Did those kids receive a well-rounded basic education in their formative years? Definitely

Posted by: Tyler Durden on November 28, 2006 03:56 PM
41. Yes, our teacher's union is 100% to blame for the relative decline in this state's public education, they have forced the legislature to use the money in ways that don't benefit the students. Yes, if the school districts had 20-30% more money to spend as they wish instead of as the teachers' wish, 'throwing money at the problem' would work. That is why public education in this state is relatively declining, because the money being thrown at the schools is for all intent and purpose being earmarked by the teachers' unions.

But if the Republicans want to see public education work, they need to champion the students, take control of the legislature and reduce the power of the teachers' union. By giving up on public education, there is no way we are going to get back power. Over 60% of the state's voting population is willing to spend a small fortune every levy cycle to support public education for the kids.

Matt and the rest of the blind mice are making it difficult on the republicans by disrespecting such a huge majority of the voting public in such an overt manner. Find solutions within the current framework of education in this state and don't rock the boat too much or we will continue to remain in the minority here.

Posted by: Doug on November 28, 2006 04:08 PM
42. Good parents, no matter what their income level or socioeconomic status, care enough about their children to want to make a difference.

My wife retired from teaching. She couldn't agree more. There were, and still are, kids who develop and prosper regardless of their parental support. They are few and far between.

Posted by: Tyler Durden on November 28, 2006 04:12 PM
43. Yeah Ivan Weiss,

I know the one thing you Progressives really fear is a little competition. It's telling that with regard to schooling, you live your own life and have high expectations and limits for your daughter in a very self interested manner, yet you still advocate for a state controlled and union dominated socialist educational system that caters to anyone regardless of their personal contribution.

If good parental involvement, good teachers, limits, rigor, etc. are all good qualities, then why are they always in greater supply in private schools? And why wouldn't that be a desirable goal for all schools? Private schools wouldn't exist if the public schools could produce the same quality product.

Ultimately a free market system will win because there's never going to be enough money to fix a public school system that is fraught with inefficiency and has no real incentive to improve. There will be a continual growth of private schools at all price levels as people become more aware of the inferior quality of union teachers and large administrative overheads, all forced into a rigid unified, state mandated curriculum.

It's a shame on our heritage of limited government that the productive freedom oriented people like myself are forced to pay to send an ingrate's kids to school as well as my own. As a socialist, you should be a lot more thankful for your fellow man.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 28, 2006 04:46 PM
44. My son attended Seattle Public Schools for grade school and middle school.We were involved and active parents, and by and large met capable and caring teachers. I was endlessly impressed with the extra effort, and amount of work they put into their jobs. They weren't all great...but the majority were.
We chose to send him to Seattle Prep for high school. The teachers there were also most impressive. He learned a lot about how to think. He also spent two years twiddling his thumbs in math class because his public middle school math had already covered that ground.

He was also more prepared in literature and history.

It's no where near as black and white as this group makes out.

Posted by: Waldo on November 28, 2006 05:08 PM
45. Jeff B. @ 43:

There always has been private education in this country and there always will be. I don't sweat it. That's people's right.

But I'm not paying taxes to support private education, and I'm here to tell you that will never be the case in this state. The voters have rejected it twice already. Politically it is a loser because of people with views like yours.

So I encourage you to keep speaking out. Keep scapegoating teachers. Keep calling everybody whose views don't match yours "socialists" and "statists." Keep telling everybody that they are "diseased" because they don't want to repeal the entire 20th Century and even the Enlightenment, like you do.

See how you fare politically with that line. Run for office, why don't you? I'm sure the 27th Legislative District will welcome you with open arms, just like it did for Foraker.

Posted by: ivan on November 28, 2006 06:06 PM
46. great neighborhood and neighbors - studies show that the suburbs have better neighborhoods and neighbors

good libraries - I'm pretty sure that there are libraries all over the place

distinct and attractive parks - guess you need them, living in a squalid city

excellent access to Puget Sound - it's only 30 minutes away for the rest of us

enticing urban neighborhood business districts - as if everyone has to go downtown to buy anything. Most of the better shopping areas are outside of downtown, and the taxes are lower

a wonderfully target-rich environment - you can comment on it without having to put up with living in the middle of it

The ability to efficiently use public transit - bus goes by my place every day, not that I'd use the grossly inefficient things

Posted by: H Moul on November 28, 2006 06:16 PM
47. Schools in Seattle are indeed a conundrum. There is no reason that one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in the country should have such lousy schools.

However schools are indicative and a microcosm of the larger society.

All research shows that controlling for income and controlling for race that children from two-parent households do better in school; and achieve later on in college etc. to boot.

The reality is that Seattle public schools deal with many, many kids from one parent households.

What to do?

Eliminate the race-based preferences that are so easy to adopt and magnetize the system.

Run a Japanese language concentration out of Rainier Beach; and run a transportation technology program out of Ballard
HS and so on.

Create programs kids and their parents will want to send their kids to and the rest wil follow. Wheter charter schools are involved or not it's simple economics: If you create prograns and schools appealing to parents and kids, they will come.

Posted by: David J on November 28, 2006 06:30 PM
48. Schools in Seattle are indeed a conundrum. There is no reason that one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in the country should have such lousy schools.

However schools are indicative and a microcosm of the larger society.

All research shows that controlling for income and controlling for race that children from two-parent households do better in school; and achieve later on in college etc. to boot.

The reality is that Seattle public schools deal with many, many kids from one parent households.

What to do?

Eliminate the race-based preferences that are so easy to adopt and magnetize the system.

Run a Japanese language concentration out of Rainier Beach; and run a transportation technology program out of Ballard
HS and so on.

Create programs kids and their parents will want to send their kids to and the rest will follow.

Whether charter schools are involved or not it's simple economics: If you create prograns and schools appealing to parents and kids, they will come.

Posted by: David J on November 28, 2006 06:31 PM
49. We've had kids in private school since '88. It used to be when school closings were read over KIRO, you could count the number of private schools on two hands. Now there are dozens. Jeff B. is right.

Ivan is like the guy on the football team who has never stepped foot onto the field, but loves to trashtalk the opponent from the safety of the sideline. You can usually spot them--they're the guys at the end of the bench, sitting by themselves.

Posted by: Organization Man on November 28, 2006 10:01 PM
50. What private school is that, Matt?

Posted by: Bruce on November 28, 2006 10:11 PM
51. The test of a good system is whether a majority of its students receive a good basic education which will allow them to train for employment and take the duties of a citizen seriously. There will always be people who can work whatever system exists and get a good result for themselves. Heck, the communists with their special stores and dachas were masters at that. The majority did not fare as well. Charters failed twice because people were told that it would take money from the public schools and there is no evidence that they perform better. The Education Commission of the states has proposed an institutional structure called charter school districts. In that structure every school in a school district becomes a charter school. So, one is not taking money from public schools. Schools that parents want to attend grow and those that no one wants to attend die.

Posted by: WVH on November 28, 2006 10:20 PM
52. I wish Stefan could figure out a way to research how many teachers/administrators and govt officials actually have their kids in private schools.

THAT would be a great public service: If the people in charge wont even use their own 'product' .. doesnt that speak volumes?

Posted by: Lauri on November 28, 2006 10:41 PM
53. There was a study about three years ago of the US Congress. Of those that had school age children, a significant percentage who lived in DC, not the surrounding affluent burbs sent their kids to private schools. DC schools are ranked near the bottom and increasingly ask for more dollars. In this study, even a significant number of the members of caucuses of color sent their kids to private schools. This includes people that were against choice for other. If you think the Kennedy kids went to public school in DC, then I want a glass of the wine that you are drinking.

Posted by: WVH on November 28, 2006 10:49 PM
54. Over the last 20 years we've had many of our teachers, administrators, even board members send their kids to private schools. However, it normally was not for the reason you all think it was for. It wasn't for a better education, though sometimes they would site a better opportunity to take high level classes, it was in almost every case that they didn't want those students to associate with others in the public school they were affiliated with.

They were concerned with their kids' safety and moral upbringing, not that the academics was better at the private schools. Their choice for private education for their children was born in hidden cultural, moral or economic bigotry, prejudice, etc. and not rooted in academic achievement.

It's not ironic that it really is the cultural, moral and economic socialism that is being forced upon the schools by the courts and the unions that is truly at the root of why people want their kids in private schools.

Posted by: Doug on November 28, 2006 11:24 PM
55. Whatever the reason "leaders" take the action they take regarding their children, others should have that choice as well. Every population of children is different. Schools are often like microclimates. I agree with John Stanford, the first priority should be to ensure that every child has an opportunity for a good basic education. I believe strong neighborhood schools addressing the needs of their population of kids is the best institutional stucture, why not a charter school district? Allow schools to do what works for their population of kids. If the schools are not working, allow them to fail and let the stronger schools grow. If some schools want longer school days, longer school terms, uniforms, single sex classes or whatever, let them experiment to see what works for their kids. The current institutional structure will not allow these differences. Also, give each school the ability to hire and fire all staff.

Posted by: WVH on November 28, 2006 11:39 PM
56. How about this for a one-two punch.
To my knowledge, private school teachers make less than public school teachers. Therefor, cut public school teachers salary to make things equal. Adminstrators too!!
Private schools maintain more law and order than public schools and that's due in part to parental involvement. If public schools got that "order in the house" attitude, things would inprove dramatically.

Posted by: PC on November 29, 2006 12:11 AM
57. ivan at 45 - You are right, you are not paying taxes to support private education. You are paying taxes to educate children. The teachers' union, along with you, seem to think that they are the only group that has a right to that money. The money is to educate children, not for the government to educate children.

Waldo at 44 - why did you send your kid to private school if he was so far ahead from the public education, and why did you continue to spend the money to keep him there after finding out how far ahead he was? If it wasn't the education, what did the private school provide him that was worth the extra mone?

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 29, 2006 07:45 AM
58. WVH@53 writes: a significant number of the members of caucuses of color sent their kids to private schools. This includes people that were against choice for other.

No one is arguing against choice for anyone. No congresspeople or other leaders are asking for any privileges for themselves that other people don't have, and you know that.

The question is whether tax dollars should follow those children into private schools. Leaders don't ask that for themselves, and they don't advocate it for others.

It is certainly true that the cost of private school makes it unaffordable for many people, and in that sense you could claim that rich liberal leaders are being hypocritical. But money buys lots of things in the world, not just private school; it's touching to see conservatives suddenly so concerned with this inequity. You can argue the pros and cons of school vouchers; both sides have good arguments. But it's wrong to say that leaders are asking to be treated differently from other people.

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 07:58 AM
59. Bruce - no one is saying that they are asking to be treated differently. It is that they 'talk' pro-government education, but 'walk' their kids to private school. This shows that they do not believe in the system they make people of lesser means use. If they think so little of the government education, then they should do something about it for the people.

What they do is support their contributors (unions) to the detriment of the children of their constituents. That is where the hypocrisy comes in.

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 29, 2006 08:16 AM
60. Fred- Liberals are certainly trying to "do something about it for the people". E.g., most liberals want to greatly increase funding for schools (bringing them closer to most private schools). I know some SP wingnuts argue that money won't help, but it's certainly doing something -- and many people, such as I, think it would help a lot.

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 08:56 AM
61. Bruce - if you and liberals feel it is only a matter of money, how do you explain the ever increasing taxes/levies/special assessments/etc. that have been instigated over the past decade or two resulting in very large increases in the per pupil expenditure (above inflation), but the results have been dropping at the same time? Also why are the school districts with the highest expenditures not rated at the top?

And what they are not doing about it is making it easier for people of lesser means have access to the schools they use for their kids. As I have said many times before, the money is collected to educate children, not for the government to educate children. Also, I have not seen any voucher proposal that would provide the full $10,000, so the public schools still makes out.

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 29, 2006 09:11 AM
62. Fred @ 61:

"The government" is you and me. If you choose not to believe that, you're the one with the problem.

Posted by: ivan on November 29, 2006 09:31 AM
63. Fred- I never said it is only a matter of money. But that's a big factor.

You ask why expenditures don't correlate with results. First of all, correlation is different from causation; there are many other reasons why expenditures or results may be high or low, or rise or fall. Schools are not controlled scientific experiments operating in a vacuum; they are affected by all sorts of demographic, political, and economic factors. The schools with the highest expenditures probably have large numbers of special-ed students who have lower test scores. Secondly, it's not clear that results have dropped. E.g., in the past few years, WASL scores have risen, though they're still painfully low.

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 09:39 AM
64. Right Said Fred:
I chose to send my son to private school because I thought the specific eductional approach of the Jesuits made a lot of sense for him. And it worked..he really learned how to think critically. But the academics were not superior...at least not in the first few years. ( (A couple of teachers told me they had to go slow because many of the Parochial Schools send kids ill prepared for high level work in high school)

But I chose that and chose to pay for it. I don't desire to force my specific taste on the rest of the community.
The public system that I experienced wasn't perfect. Neither was the private system. Both could do better.

Posted by: Waldo on November 29, 2006 09:55 AM
65. ivan - that is the theory, but the politicians override the people the whole time here. Like 60% vote to increase taxes - inconvenient so ignore and raise taxes anyway! And if you really believe that to the extent your response implies, then I want the government to educate my child at what are commonly called 'private schools'. Given that the teachers there are 'the government' as well. So misinterpret all you like, it doesn't help your arguments at all.

Bruce - you did say that it would help a lot, which reverts back to results for all the money pouring into it. And the WASL is working so well, that it had to be delayed as a graduation requirement until next decade! Why is money being spent on the WASL when there are other equivalent tests available? Good use of resources when results are falling? Your assumption of poorer results are a result of 'special-ed' kids is not only bigoted as to their capability, but not quantified, and that these few people can bring down an entire state's average is also a bit disingenuous.

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 29, 2006 10:02 AM
66. Waldo - that makes a lot of sense, and I agree with you that critical thinking will go a lot further in life than the academics.

But the fact that these schools do take the 'less prepared' ones does nullify some of the arguments why private schools do better.

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 29, 2006 10:07 AM
67. Fred- Bigoted??? What does special-ed have to do with bigotry??? Some kids have special educational needs and these add significantly to the costs for public schools. Even Richard Pope said this.

(Your other points are similarly lacking in logic.)

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 10:08 AM
68. I said nothing of costs, I said ability, which you claim are so substandard that it brings the results of the whole state down.

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 29, 2006 10:27 AM
69. Special-ed students, by definition, need special help in order to learn. Again, this has nothing to do with bigotry.

You may be right that these scores don't significantly affect the average -- I'm not sure. But schools with larger number of special-ed students tend to be in poorer neighborhoods, and family income does correlate closely with test scores. There are many reasons for this, but for the most part they are issues of society, not the schools.

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 10:43 AM
70. Bruce and Ivan,

Both of you want public schools. Politics is the art of the possible. What about charter school districts. Every school in the district is a charter. They each receive the same amount of per pupil aid. They are allowed to innovate and do what meets the needs of their group of children. If parents decide to move their children to more successful schools, the successful schools can grow, others die. These schools are allowed to hire and fire all personnel. Is what you, Bruce and Ivan really want a system of education controlled by unions and bureaucracy or do you really want to give all children an opportuntity for a good basic education? I use to be a stauch democrat until I realized that a lot of the "progressive" policies were designed to keep people in the "victim" class. I am now a stauch independent. I realize that children of color will not be successful without a good basic education.

Posted by: WVH on November 29, 2006 10:45 AM
71. WVH, I could accept your charter school distruct provided that the charter schools weren't religious, didn't charge additional sums beyond what the state provided, and accepted randomly from all applicants. (If some charter schools had specific admission criteria, then I'd want to see other equally good schools appropriate for those who didn't meet those criteria.)

I understand how charter schools sound like a panacea. In practice they have not proven to be, and arguably they divert resources and attention from the real issues. But they have some promise.

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 11:08 AM
72. Bruce,

Charter school is simply an institutional structure. For my dissertation, I had 435 sources. Much of the research against charters is heavily skewed by critics. If one matches schools that children are likely to attend in the same quadrant, charters fair well. The key is the ability of a particular school to serve its population of students - to have choices like:
a. longer school day
b. longer school term
c. uniforms
d. single gender classes
e. discipline
f. a variety of staffing options

I realize that the Supremes did not take a case from Vermont, which dealt with whether vouchers could be used in religious schools, but I don't see a problem. Many Black children from the CD of Seattle do well in Zion Prep or Catholic schools. You argued that the Kennedys have the right to send their children to the school of their choice. I think it was Voltaire said the rich and the poor have an equal right to sleep under bridges. The point is the rich don't have to make that choice. In my opinion, "progressives" are such purists when they don't have to suffer the consequences. I would much rather educate a poor child of any color who is in a failing school by giving them a space in a charter run by a religious school or a voucher to a religious school if that gives them a ticket out of poverty. Politics is the art of the possible, a charter school district would be an improvement over the failing insitutional structure we have now. I am all about giving all children an opportunity for a good basic education.

Posted by: WVH on November 29, 2006 11:24 AM
73. Ivan,

You can dicker over the labels, but one who believes that government can and should do a better job than private individuals is a statist. And one who believes that we all have an obligation to fund each other's needs is a socialist. I'm fine with paying taxes for limited government services such as roads, fire, and even some dollars to education. But I'm not fine with putting dollars AND control of education in government hands with no incentives for improvement. And that's the trend in WA.

If you can't see that the US public school education has been declining and producing an average of less well educated students, then you are not looking. Despite what your daughter or any other good student does, overall the system has failed us and has greatly increased the cost of education for both public and private students, with no corresponding trend toward improvement. And WA is not well ranked educationally within the 50 states.

Regardless of the level one believes is appropriate government, or the degree to which that mindset is the majority in WA, staying the course with a less than fully effective educational system is a foolish waste of our tax dollars.

As I said above, what you Progressives fear is competition and thus change. You have a fundamentally distrustful and pessimistic view of your fellow man. You don't want to consider the possibility of vouchers, or less government involvement, or more union limitations or anything that might generate a better outcome, even given a generously funded public school system. Any modest and limited privatization or other reforms are continually rejected in Olympia.

That's the tragedy. Assuming it is here to stay, the public school system could be much better, and without some form of incentive and competition, it won't be.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 29, 2006 11:35 AM
74. Bruce - what has to do with bigotry is that you assume that special-ed kids will do poorly. The fact that "larger number of special-ed students tend to be in poorer neighborhoods" sure indicates that there is a very bad definition of what kid gets assigned to special-ed, not that there is anything wrong with the kids. It is probably the schools drugging the kids that is the issue

http://www.cchr.com/index.cfm/6443

Posted by: Fred on November 29, 2006 11:39 AM
75. Jeff Boly @ 73 says:

"You have a fundamentally distrustful and pessimistic view of your fellow man. You don't want to consider the possibility of vouchers, or less government involvement, or more union limitations or anything that might generate a better outcome, even given a generously funded public school system. Any modest and limited privatization or other reforms are continually rejected in Olympia."
------------
The notion that I have a "fundamentally distrustful and pessimistic view of my fellow man" is preposterous, and that conclusion is not supported by anything I have said.

If my tax money were ever to fund private education, do you think that would come with no strings attached?

Conservatives like to pick every line item in every school district's budget to pieces, and question whether programs are necessary or desirable.

And you know what? I agree with that. I think that is both necessary and desirable. If you, or I, think our tax dollars are being wasted, darn right we should speak up, even though we might differ wildly on what is necessary or desirable.

In other words, publicly funded charter schools would have to be accountable to the taxpayers. That means the books are open, and the adminstrators' financial packages are public information. Certainly you have no problem with that. They would have to meet state standards for curriculum. Certainly you have no problem with that. You want to set up Christian madrassas, fine. Just give the kids the same core curriculum that everybody else gets, and the same salary structure and employment rules for teachers.

But see, that's not what the Spadys of the world want, or the Evergreen Fraudulent Foundation. They want to take my tax dollars and not tell me how they're being spent. They want teachers to work for substandard wages, without job security or collective bargaining.

You think we're going to permit that with our tax dollars? Not on your life! What kind of "innovation" is that? That's the way they ran schools 100 years ago. What's your next "innovation?" The paddle?

You have no credibility. All you do is blame the unions for everything, so pardon me if I conclude that all you want to do is bust the unions.

Why don't you run for SPI on that platform? See if you can break Mike the Mover numbers.

Posted by: ivan on November 29, 2006 01:29 PM
76. If you haven't noticed, the coattails from trying to pass Charterss by initiative won't carry the republicans to control the legislature. It seems to me that the posters who are promoting school vouchers for charter schools explain their reasoning in a way that the blame for public school failure is that the state interferes too much and the unions have too much power.

Those issues can be addressed if the republicans had control of the legislature. They could be better fixed if the republicans supported FIXING the public school problems instead of supporting destroying the public schools. This issue is death to the state republicans, we have to get off our narcissus attitude and look to politic on fixing the public education system we have or we won't take back the state house.

Posted by: Doug on November 29, 2006 02:01 PM
77. Bruce,

Our seven year old was already FAR behind the other first graders from being in public school for kindergarten...

We are already playing catch-up in first grade!

And as for the money, we get a top notch education for 6000 grand a year from private school. Not 10 grand, or 15 grand or 20 grand!

There is no amount of money that will be enough for the left; since money isnt the reason for the problems in the first place!

Posted by: Lauri on November 29, 2006 02:45 PM
78. Lauri- What great $6K private school is that?

Posted by: Bruce on November 29, 2006 03:51 PM
79. Doug-

Sounds like a perfect RINO plan. It doesn't matter what party the legislators are if they just perpetuate the failing policies of our union run schools. Washington schools need an overhaul from the ground up.

And yes Ivan - BUST THE GD UNIONS that have a strangle hold on education progress in this state/country!!!

Collective bargaining be damned. Let each teacher negotiate their own pay upon being hired, like all of us non-union folks. Then maybe they can negotiate a salary that will allow them to live in the neighborhood in which they teach.

And NO, the teachers don't live in slum housing. I know quite a few teachers and they have very nice houses and condos.

I'm glad your child is doing so well, obviously she didn't inherit your closed-minded ignorance.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 29, 2006 04:07 PM
80. Ivan,

Sounds like you belong to a union. I don't know why you keep suggesting that I run for office. I have no interest in running for office, and I agree the 27th is hopelessly Blue. It would be a waste of money.

I'm not denying that a majority in this state agree with you, but I'm also going to opine on it all I want. If you don't like that, don't read this blog. That's your problem.

You call it collective bargaining, I call it extortion. There's no way that a free market would ever support the artificially high wages that union workers get paid to do rather simple tasks. No one has a right to be paid anything. There's a large new knowledge workforce that gets paid a fair wage based on the market for their skills. They negotiate independently with the companies they want to work for, they pay no dues to any third party and their terms are voluntary. I see that as a far more honorable way for two parties to negotiate than for a collective threat of force.

There should never be guaranteed job security. What kind of a perverted world is it when a company is forced to retain a job, even if it is ultimately a threat to the viability of the company and thus a threat to all jobs at that company. Job security is a job well done that causes an employer to continue to value a workers skills.

Substandard wage? That's rhetoric. By what standard? Your idea of a good wage? Why don't we all just pay ourselves whatever we want? It would be a fine world if money grew on trees too. But no it would not, because preset wages ignore real value. Real value has to be created.

I agree that good teachers are underpaid for the service that they perform, but the solution is not a union, but a change in the whole concept of education. There are many new private schools with teachers that are very well paid. The overhead for such schools is minimal, and the value of their education much greater than a typical school. They consistently produce demonstrably superior results in their students using radically new and better methods of teaching. In other words, if teachers want to get paid more, then they need to offer more value and a much better educational product. That scarcity will create a demand for discerning customers. And frankly, there are a lot of teachers that are not worth more because they don't do a good job. We all had bad teachers. Why should those teachers be retained and paid the same wages regardless of the quality of their work? I assume that even you had a bad teacher or two. Don't you think they deserved a "substandard wage?" Why do you fear allowing a market to make that determination? And what about the upside for good teachers? If wages are largely level and negotiated, then a truly great teacher won't be able to earn a lot more for that greatness in a standardized wage environment.

You seem to be pretty impressed by the collective. I don't see how any person or group has any claim to any other person or group in any moral sense. In other words, I don't expect anyone to negotiate on my behalf. And I don't believe I have a claim to a higher salary or any other benefits other than what my skills and offer-able market value allow.

Ultimately, collective bargaining is an extreme disservice to the companies involved, and thus to their employees. If a company wants to try and keep their prices and costs as low as possible to be competitive and appeal to consumers, yet they are bound by an artificial increase due to collective wage bargaining, the loser will be the employees who will be forced to make concessions or to lose their jobs altogether. Force won't be able to create better competition with other more nimble competitors in the market. That's been a real factor in what has happened in Detroit. And that's why so many unions are springing up in the government. Government is a safe place where unions are free from the pressures of competition. The only loser is the taxpayer, and since that's everyone, it makes for an easy sell.

I'm all for all of the accountability and controls on any tax dollars that go to education. The obvious fact that most realize is that there is a lot more accountability to one's own money and finances than when it's someone else's money. I think there's much less risk in allowing individuals to properly spend education dollars, especially vouchers, than there is risk that a bureaucracy will spend wisely. What's to prevent the bureaucracy from spending an inordinate amount on union salaries, fancy buildings, etc. At least an individual would be free to decide that they were not interested in funding an educational institution that deviated from the core function of educating its students. Especially if a frugal private educational facility was able to offer lower prices to extend the voucher dollar of a particular education consumer by choosing not spend money on unneeded frills.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 29, 2006 05:04 PM
81. Alas Jeffro we see the problem with our Republican leadership in this state. If a Republican supports fixing Public Education to make them work they are relegated to RINO status. A true Republican must be against public education and only for Charter Schools and Private Schools.

In a nutshell that is why the Republicans have been out of power in this state for the last 20+ years. You can take all the other important issues in this state and the Republicans can be on the right side of those issues, but when we are wrong on public education we will lose again and again.

Posted by: Doug on November 29, 2006 07:18 PM
82. Tangential kinda-OT question here...awhile back I read an article in The Columbian showing much higher property tax rates in Vancouver on apartments than on single-family owner-occupied homes.

Are Washington homeowners getting a big subsidy from renters?

Posted by: Terry on November 29, 2006 09:01 PM
83. Ivan,

A charter school is simply an institutional structure. Since Senator Murray is willing to sponsor legislation to give the Mayor some control of the schools, a Legislator could write a bill for charter school districts with accountability to the State Auditor for how the money is spent. The RCW already defines the elements of a basic education.
"In other words, publicly funded charter schools would have to be accountable to the taxpayers. That means the books are open, and the adminstrators' financial packages are public information. Certainly you have no problem with that. They would have to meet state standards for curriculum. Certainly you have no problem with that. You want to set up Christian madrassas, fine. Just give the kids the same core curriculum that everybody else gets, and the same salary structure and employment rules for teachers."
You have identified the crux of the problem, it is the curriculum. The crowd pushing for the takeover by the mayor has a lifestyle agenda. They want to mainstream their lifestyle. Do you have the same objection to that as Chrisitan madrassases? If a parochial school, the Catholic schools for example or Zion Prep does an excellent job of educating a poor child who has come from a failing school, do you object simply because the child is going to a religious school?
Do you care whether the child is in fact receiving a good basic education? At what point does education of children trump your ideology?
The next big fight is over curriculum for the few children who have not found a way out of the current institutional structure.

Posted by: WVH on November 29, 2006 09:41 PM
84. Ivan,

Regarding the insitutional structure called a charter:
"But see, that's not what the Spadys of the world want, or the Evergreen Fraudulent Foundation. They want to take my tax dollars and not tell me how they're being spent. They want teachers to work for substandard wages, without job security or collective bargaining."
Charters by definition have the freedom to hire and fire personnel. Also, they are not tied to a set salary schedule. They could if they manage the state allocation, raise money from their neighborhood, and get volunteer hours pay teachers more. You probably would not agree to a charter structure because they could decide not to have a union. So, what is it with you - is a successful charter that educates all its children prohibited because it may choose not to have a union?

Posted by: WVH on November 29, 2006 09:49 PM
85. Bruce,

Sammamish Christian School here on the plateau. It's 690 dollars a month up to the 5th grade, which is a heck of a deal. They do not currently go past 5th grade, but hope to in the future.

And while the public school kids will have added days at the end of the year for these snow days, SCS has 6 'float' days already built into the calendar; our kids wont have any time to make up as of this weeks' closing.

I know for a fact that her classmates at the public school are not learning what she is; I talk to moms here all the time and they marvel at what my daughter is learning - and what theirs are not.

Posted by: Lauri on November 30, 2006 08:16 AM
86. Doug-

Again, I don't care which party has the true vision to fix our schools. My point is that our public education system is a failed experiment.

The union needs to go away for starters. We need a whole new model - perhaps patterned after some of the private schools. Each school needs more flexibility and sovereignity to fulfill the needs of their community. It can't be a "one size fits all" system. Different ethnicities, etc. learn differently. We need to determine the educational goal at the end of the K-12 program and determine a system that helps all arrive at the same level of basic high level of education skills.

Who will step up, who will have the courage. Neither Dems or Reps will because they're all terrified of the union thugs.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 08:24 AM
87. Jeffro,

Youre right on the mark; and what you are asking for is called "classic education" which takes the feelings and emotions out of the kids' day and puts actual math, factual history and English back in their day.

How our kids feel about trees and bugs is less important than if they can actually add numbers and speak and write correctly. Not 'proficiently' ... correctly.

Getting rid of the WASL is a major step in the right direction - that puts three months of actual class time back into the students calendar that they dont have to be told how to think on some ridiculous test, that tests nothing.

Posted by: Lauri on November 30, 2006 08:38 AM
88. and YES, bust the teacher's union... its the key to getting this state moving again.

Posted by: Lauri on November 30, 2006 08:40 AM
89. Lauri-

Ditto. My daughter (14) scores almost perfect on all parts of the WASL every time she is required to take it. Granted, she's a very smart kid, get's it from her mom, but the fact is, some kids just know how to take tests.

WASL, PC and the union should go away.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 09:16 AM
90. Ivan and Bruce,

Would you give your opinion on the following two questions?
1. Regarding vouchers to religious schools or a charter sponsored by a religious school. If a parochial school, the Catholic schools for example or Zion Prep does an excellent job of educating a poor child who has come from a failing school, do you object simply because the child is going to a religious school?

2. So, what is it with you - is a successful charter that educates all its children prohibited because it may choose not to have a union? Is union membership mandatory in all education situations other than a totally privately funded school?

Your opinion is appreciated.

Posted by: WVH on November 30, 2006 10:42 AM
91. When did education start going down hill? When did education get removed from community and classic education and put in the Dept of Education at the Fed level. It wouldn't happen to be about the same time would it?

Couldn't be - that is when education started improving as a result of the homogenous approach that best comes from the biggest bureaucracy we have. They know what every town needs!

Posted by: Right said Fred on November 30, 2006 10:42 AM
92. WVH@90- I'm unsure about many aspects of charter schools, including their actual benefits. And Washington voters don't seem to want them. But I'll answer your questions anyway, as if we were going to have charters:

1) As a public policy matter, I don't want my tax dollars going to schools that teach a particular religion as fact or exclude people from other religions. Perhaps there could be a way for a church to sponsor a nonsectarian charter school, and offer optional religious education after school.

2) I don't necessarily think charter schools should have to start by hiring unionized teachers. Of course, their teachers, as any workers in this country, would have the right to form or join a union if they so voted.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 11:38 AM
93. Lauri- I'm glad you've found a school that you're happy with. I'm not surprised that it's a Christian school (I'm still waiting for Matt to tell us about the great, nonsectarian school that charges $6K tuition). I think religious schools are able to hire teachers at lower than market rate because the teachers want to serve their religion. (E.g., your school's website asks faculty applicants to submit "a 1-page essay about your personal relationship with God and how you will incorporate this into your classroom"). That clearly works for you, but most parents prefer a non-sectarian education.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 11:53 AM
94. JeffB280 writes: collective bargaining is an extreme disservice to the companies involved, and thus to their employees

Whoa -- that's quite an oversimplification with all that's happened in worldwide labor markets over the past couple of centuries! Do you think there have ever been circumstances anywhere that merited collective bargaining by employees? E.g., is your statement based on reality or just mindless Ann Rynd pop-ideology?

If you want to debate the pros and cons of unions in Washington State schools today, that's fine. (Personally I've spent my life in the private sector and appreciate flexibility in hiring, compensation, work rules, firing, etc., though I recognize that every industry and profession is different.) But you seem to have a bigger agenda.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 12:03 PM
95. Bruce-

I would disagree IMO with the statement about most parents prefering a non-sectarian education. I thinks it's the money, time and commitment that parents aren't willing to pay.

Most of the hardcore athiests/agnostics that I know, have chosen not to have children. I personally have no problem with either, although I believe that society benefits as a whole when our children are taught with moral and ethical guidelines.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 12:08 PM
96. Lauri writes: How our kids feel about trees and bugs is less important than if they can actually add numbers and speak and write correctly. Not 'proficiently' ... correctly.

First of all, I doubt any school focuses on how kids feel about trees and bugs, although that would be a fine topic for a speech or essay.

Second, it's ironic that you say that, when you've chosen a school whose mission is to provide "a well rounded and academically excellent education from a biblical Christian worldview". Obviously this is not all about the 3 R's.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 12:11 PM
97. Bruce-

Do you mean Ayne Rand's mindless pop-ideology? It is neither.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 12:11 PM
98. Jeffro writes, in a discussion of religion and education: I believe that society benefits as a whole when our children are taught with moral and ethical guidelines.

Me too. What does that have to do with religion?

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 12:16 PM
99. Jeffro, we both misspelled Ayn Rand's name. Anyway, inserting her name was gratuitous; feel free to substitute "union-bashing conservative" between "mindless" and "pop-ideology".

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 12:22 PM
100. Bruce responds... Second, it's ironic that you say that, when you've chosen a school whose mission is to provide "a well rounded and academically excellent education from a biblical Christian worldview". Obviously this is not all about the 3 R's.

I believe that society benefits as a whole when our children are taught with moral and ethical guidelines.

Bruce responds... Me too. What does that have to do with religion?

I have witnessed first hand, the difference between the behavior, manners, honesty, compassion, etc. between those kids that have a moral compass based in religion, either at home or from a religious school and those kids who have had their morality provided by workaholic parents who leave it to the public school system.

Which of these teenagers would you trust to babysit your young ones. For me, it's a no brainer.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 12:27 PM
101. Which of these teenagers would you trust to babysit your young ones. For me, it's a no brainer.

Uh, Ted Haggard's kids?

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 12:31 PM
102. Bruce-

Granted, I am anti-union. In this country, I thinks it's a concept that has run it's course.

You see absolutely no benefit in eliminating the teachers union and rebuilding the failing public education system paterned after a better model.

Okay, I'll accept that I'm a mindless conservative if you accept that you are a elitist liberal bigot that is prejudiced againt people of faith and the poor who would benefit most from charter schools or a better education system model.

True colors my friend.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 12:40 PM
103. So I guess you just want to turn this into a glib joke. Do you have kids Bruce? If so, I wish them the best as well as you. Since this debate is becoming rediculous, I'll say good day to you.

Posted by: Jeffro on November 30, 2006 12:45 PM
104. Jeffro, did you actually read my posts #92 and #94? I didn't say anything like what you claim (almost the opposite, in fact). As for my "glib joke", it was actually a serious point: morals and ethics come from within, not automatically from religion. But this has been well covered by philosophers; having no desire to recreate that debate, I'll stick with glib jokes that make my point.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 01:11 PM
105. Ivan,

We are agreed that parents are ultimately responsible for our children's education so why do you not support a parent's right to effectively choose their school?

If public school is so awesome, why is money taken from us at gunpoint to pay for it?

Why are we not allowed to use natural selection ... choice ... capitalism to ensure better schools?

Why must I put in a whole day of work to pay for the Public Schools then spend an entire evening doing their job?

This does not make sense to me.

Posted by: lee egg on November 30, 2006 01:14 PM
106. Bruce,

How on earth do 'morals come from within' ..? Babies arent born knowing a thing, in fact, children left to their own devices are usually little monsters.

We have a young, hip teacher who teaches the kids to respect one another AND their parents. Yes, they get scriptural lessons and go to chapel, but they also take Spanish twice a week, computers every single day (once a month in issaquah for first graders) and do not have the discipline 'issues' that teachers manufacture in the public school.

I would far rather have to pick up the Bible to discuss what my daughter may not know, than to endlessly discuss her sexuality (??) and other social issues that are not pertinent to her overall education.

Furthermore, everything these kids learn has some purpose to it; the waste of money and time WASL does not. Once I learned they are not required to take the WASL in the private schools, I ran to sign up. Three months of wasted time and opportunity every year is worth that extra money.

Posted by: Lauri on November 30, 2006 01:31 PM
107. lee egg writes: If public school is so awesome, why is money taken from us at gunpoint to pay for it?

Oh my gosh! Someone took money from you at gunpoint! What type of gun did they have? You reported this to the police, right?

If this is how you describe taxes, then why is money taken from me at gunpoint to fund everything from street lights to the Iraq war?

Taxes are part of every developed society. We can debate how much they should be or how they should be spent, but of course they are mandatory. Get real.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 01:33 PM
108. Lauri, The relationship of morality to religion has been debated by many finer minds than mine, and I am not going to persuade you of anything here.

I am curious, though, how you think public school teachers "manufacture" discipline issues. I think there are real discipline issues, which are largely related to society's problems. You (as I) have chosen a school that restricts itself to generally well-behaved children, but we should not blame the public schools for having to deal with discipline issues.

As for sex ed, the fact that you raise this out of the blue leads me to believe you have strong opinions beyond the scope of this thread.

And as for the WASL, my kids' school doesn't use it either. But I doubt 3 months are really being spent on the WASL per se in public schools. If time is being spent on WASL topics that the kids need to learn, that's good. Of course, if some kids already know those things, they should be doing something else. But that's not the WASL's fault.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 01:46 PM
109. Bruce,

Let's see shall we?
Police ... protection.
Street lights ... protection.
War in Iraq ... protection (argue all you will).

Protection is one of the four essential mandates of our government. Taking our money, forcing us to either abandon it or our children's education is NOT a mandate of our government. Socialists (such as you) believe it should be.

Lack of competition is STUPID. Why do you think there are laws against monopolies?

Arguments in support of the public school system while preventing REAL competition is like saying "I like communism and think we should do that here".

Posted by: lee egg on November 30, 2006 01:52 PM
110. Somewhat surprisingly, I find myself agreeing with alot of what Bruce has written here. However, I would like to see some charter districts given a try. There's alot of foundations like the Gates' that want to make investments in charter schools in this state but cannot because of the union monopoly. If there are failing schools, why not give them an opportunity?

I am also pro-standards and accountability, so I am one of the few heretic supporters here of the WASL. A lot of people who complain about it are those with kids who cannot pass it. But I have reviewed the questions, especially math, and it's not some radical new world test it's made out to be. It tests real math skills, and it's this test which has uncovered the REAL problem, Washington students have a math deficiency.

Posted by: Palouse on November 30, 2006 01:57 PM
111. Lee egg, government does lots of things besides protection. If that bugs you, fine. But it's what the majority of Americans (and people in every other country, for that matter) want, and if you call that socialist or communist, you have neither a good education nor a good dictionary.

Also, there are not laws against monopolies, just about specific behaviors which have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 02:10 PM
112. Bruce,

Manufacturing behavior issues became apparent to us as soon as we moved here from Texas; Teachers spent inordinate amounts of time in "circle time" discussing my older daughter's feelings (5th grade), as in relation to the class. Every slight was discussed ad nauseum, rather than simply telling the parents when a kid was acting up and affecting everyone else. Children cannot police each other in elementary school; that's the adults job.

In our younger daughter's only year in public school (Kindergarten) the teacher could not/or would not allow children to even be children on the playground; no running, no chasing, no spirited yelling. Nothing. If they did so, automatic punishment.

In the classroom, instead of removing a child for bad behavior, all learning stopped and focus was then on the unruly kid. Again, Kindergartner's have no idea how to police each other or the classroom; that's the adults job.

Now I have learned that in second grade, when kids act up, they are given the opportunity to miss recess and mom and dad are not even told.

Now, tell me... how does a parent deal effectively with discipline problems in the classroom, if the kids are in charge and opt not to tell them?

"Child centric" learning has been an abysmal failure. Children do not have any inner compass that tells them right from wrong, or the right answer on a test; again, that's the adults job to teach them. (I am focusing on elementary aged kids here). Junior High and Senior High has their own issues.

As for sexuality in the elementary schools, its already happening and is far too involved for just a few posts - my child isnt sexuality active at the age of 7 and I can almost guarantee she wont be by age 12. Spending even 10 minutes of class time on this is beyond absurd - but 8 hours a year for the Lake Washington school district? What a waste of tax dollars!

Posted by: Lauri on November 30, 2006 02:50 PM
113. Lauri - What grades spend 8 hours a year on sexuality? What is the curriculum?

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 02:57 PM
114. Bruce,

Thanks for at least having the guts to respond. Is there any point at which a child's welfare trumps your ideology? Please don't think that I view children in a negative light. For many substance abusers, they respond eventually to different types of treatment. Some respond to secular programs and others respond to programs with a faith-based component. If some poor children who have been in failing schools thrive in a religious school setting. Are you saying you as a matter of ideological purity would deny them that option? I guess I see why it is easy to for you to defend the Kennedys and their excercise of all their options.

Posted by: WVH on November 30, 2006 10:32 PM
115. WVH- You ask a good question. Philosophically, if a particular student is likely to do better in a particular religious school than his/her current school, shouldn't we try to make that happen?

But is it religion itself that's helping the kid, or does the best school just happen to be religious? If the former, then, no, I don't think taxes should pay for religion for a kid -- or an adult -- even if it will help them. That's not government's job, and it endangers the funded religion as well as the freedom of people of all religions and no religion. If the latter, why can't you make a non-religious school that helps the child just as much?

But, you may say, stop asking questions and just answer my question. OK, let's look at the practical effects of funding religious schools (through vouchers or charters), compared with the present arrangement:

1) It would transfer vast amounts of dollars from public schools to the parents of kids who are already in religious schools. This would hurt the public schools while improving no one's education.

AND

2) It would enable more people to go to religious schools. This would probably not improve students' education overall -- for every student who would do better in a religious school, I claim (at least) one other would do worse -- while increasing religious divisions in our society.

I don't think either of these effects is good public policy.

Posted by: Bruce on November 30, 2006 11:27 PM
116. 1. My belief is that ALL children are capable of learning.
2. I believe there should be a variety of options that receive public funding of which religious schools could be one option.
3. If there is a charter school district, then all schools are charters and free to innovate. This means that some schools may fail as parents excercise choice. I don't see what is wrong with giving a parent whose child has been in a failing school options, among which is a religious school. The Florida voucher program allowed mostly poor Black children from failing schools the option of using their vouchers at religious schools. The focus on ideology is one reason I left the dems and became an independent. As long as the ideology is pure, Chelsea Clinton, who was school age during Clinton's terms and the Gore kids skipped the D.C. mess and went to private school. I suppose, never mind, they didn't use tax dollars, so of course, it was OK. meanwhile, the dem platform is against choice.

Posted by: WVH on November 30, 2006 11:53 PM
117. WVH- Your last post confuses me. Point #1 is pablum. Point #2 states what you "believe" without any justification. Point #3 says you don't see what's wrong with the thing you keep asking for -- ignoring my immediately preceding post that said exactly what's wrong with it.

I know you believe in charter schools. But your post doesn't address the questions that I (or other critics) have raised.

Posted by: Bruce on December 1, 2006 12:46 AM
118. 1. I never said that religion per se makes a student achieve. But, if a school which is religious produces results in terms of its students basic education, is the choice prohibited simply because the school happens to be religious? Basic education is defined in the RCW. That is a standard all schools should meet.
2. Point #1 is not pablum, studies have proved that children rise to meet epectations. There is a famous study of files getting mixed up. Students that should have been labeled underachievers were labeled achievers. They were treated as achievers by teachers and did better than expected on tests.
3. Guess I'm just stupid, even though I have an MBA in economics. This transfer of massive amounts of money from public schools is an interesting statement. Can you cite some actual studies on the economic impact. The Florida program was limited to those in failing schools.
4. Gee, the student loan programs and military college savings allow choice at religious schools. Has this choice increased religious divisions because some one is able to go to Brandeis or Seattle Pacific?
5. All a charter school is an insitutional structure which allows some licensing or granting authority to set forth specific conditions for the operation of the school. What the insitutional structure allows is the freedom to innovate. In many states they are exempt from many regulations, not the requirement to produce basic education standards, and they can do things like:
1. Longer school days
2. Longer school terms
3. uniforms
4. single gender classrooms
5. Discipline
6. Other innovations
I think the real issue is ideologues can't force their ideology on everyone, no matter what is best for children. The politbureau wants to keep control.

Posted by: WVH on December 1, 2006 01:12 AM
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